HAMILTON - A Ravalli County jury has ruled that a Hamilton police officer acted in self defense when he killed a suspect in a shootout.
Officer Ross Jessop pulled over Raymond "Thane" Davis in January for driving in the wrong lane.
The patrol car video shows Davis stopping and Jessop walking up to Davis' car window and beginning to talk with him. The after a brief conversation, Davis pulled out a revolver and started shooting at the Jessop, so Jessop shot back.
In January, Jessop started following Raymond "Thane" Davis from the bar when he saw Davis get behind the wheel. Jessop said he followed Davis because he knew he was drunk.
It took Davis several minutes to pull over and when he did, Jessop went up to Davis' car window and said he could smell the alcohol in his car.
"And so, I asked him how much he had to drink," Jessop said during Tuesday's coroner's inquest.
Jessop testified that Davis said he'd had plenty to drink.
"He was drinking at the time, not necessarily at the exact time obviously, but probably up to that time," Walter Kemp with the Montana State Crime Lab testified.
Jessop and Davis talked for a couple minutes and then Jessop saw a gun inches away from his face.
"The only thing I recall was that I know that I needed to move, and as I was moving, I heard the sound of a gunshot," Jessop said. "I didn't know if he was just trying to drive away far enough to come back and shoot again or create distance himself and then keep shooting at me. I had no idea."
Jessop testified that he fired 14 of the 15 rounds in his gun and that when back up arrived, officers ended up approaching Davis' SUV where they found him dead from a single gunshot wound.
Witnesses testified that before the shootout with police that night, Davis told people he wanted to shoot an officer. Davis was also a registered violent offender.