After a short deliberation, a jury in Helena Thursday found that officers were justified in firing the shots that killed a 13-year-old Havre boy outside of Fort Benton in 2007.
Mark Keeley led two law enforcement officers on a high-speed chase after he was reported to have stolen $8 worth of gasoline from Chester.
After he drove his car over a spike strip, he tried to drive away with four flat tires. after stopping his vehicle, he fired on the officers, and was killed when they returned fire.
The jury deliberated for less than two hours before deciding that Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Jason Wickum and Chouteau County Sheriff's Deputy Kyle Meier acted reasonably and lawfully when they pursued Keeley and eventually shot him 29 times near Fort Benton the night of April 21, 2007.
His mother, Michelle Springer, filed a negligence lawsuit against the officers in 2009, arguing the shooting was "totally unnecessary, unreasonable and constituted a blatant use of excessive and deadly force."
During the four-day trial, jurors watched about half an hour of video from Meier's dashboard camera. It showed Keeley's vehicle drive off the road after hitting spiked "stop sticks."
Keeley fired a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with birdshot at the deputy and the trooper, and both officers returned fire. The video shows Wickum fired 17 shots and Meier fired 12 over the course of about two minutes.
A state medical examiner testified at an August 2007 coroner's inquest, which found no wrongdoing on the part of the officers, that three bullets went into the back of Keeley's head, two into his back, three into his thigh and six into his shoulder and arm.
Wickum testified that he believed both officers' lives were in danger after Keeley fired at them.
Wickum left the courthouse Thursday without commenting, but Meier stood outside with his wife.
"I am glad about the outcome of this trial," he said. "I didn't feel we ever did anything wrong, and I knew in my heart that this would be the outcome."
Also named in Springer's lawsuit were the Montana Highway Patrol, the state Department of Justice, the Chouteau County Sheriff's Office and Sheriff Vern Burdick. The complaint sought $2 million in damages for her son's suffering and her own damages.
Springer left the courtroom without commenting.Jury: Officers justified in Keeley shooting death