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Montana Officers Cleared In Killing Of Native American

At a day-long inquest Monday, a coroner’s jury found two Billings, Mt., police officers justified in a 2020 killing of a Chippewa Cree man after police said the man pulled a gun while officers tried to handcuff him.

Officers Ryland Nelson and Justin Bickford will not face criminal charges for the shooting death of 29-year-old Coleman Stump. The jury’s finding was devastating for Stump’s family, reports News From The States. Stump’s sister, Tonya, believes the inquest was biased against them from the start. “Why were there no Natives on that jury,” she said. “None of those were his peers. They were all Caucasian and significantly older than him.”

Four men and three women sat on the jury. Ed Zink of the Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office presented evidence that Stump was shot 11 times. Bickford fired four of those shots, hitting Stump in the head three times and once in the neck. Nelson hit Stump seven times in his left side. A toxicology report showed Stump had methamphetamine in his blood system. On the night of the shooting, a woman called 911 and reported suspicious activity in the parking lot of her apartment complex. She said she saw Stump bent over an engine of one car and another car parked next to it with two women inside. Officers asked Stump for his name and date of birth. When officers tried to check the name, it appeared to be fake. Officers then tried to detain Stump. A struggle broke out as Stump tried to prevent officers from putting him in handcuffs, according to officers.


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