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Slain sheriff's deputy was shot with his own gun

 


CHINOOK - The Blaine County sheriff's deputy killed May 29 was shot with his own gun during a struggle with a man he was attempting to arrest, according to a document filed Tuesday in state District Court.

Deputy Joshua Raven Chief Rutherford, 28, was killed near Harlem while responding to a domestic disturbance. Lawrence Dean Jackson Jr., 25, has been charged with deliberate homicide in the shooting death of Rutherford and with attempted deliberate homicide in the wounding of deputy Loren Janis.

"A struggle ensued during which Lawrence Dean Jackson Jr., obtained control of Deputy Rutherford's service weapon, a Glock Model 22, .40 caliber handgun," the new charging document said. "The Defendant shot Deputy Rutherford in the chest, fatally wounding Deputy Rutherford. (Jackson) fired at Deputy Janis several times, striking Janis in the left arm."

Blaine County Attorney Yvonne Laird has not said whether she will seek the death penalty. Jackson is being held without bail in the Hill County Detention Center.

Jackson is registered as a violent offender. He was convicted in 1999 of aggravated assault and was sentenced to two years in prison.

The document charging Jackson with homicide, filed in state District Court in Chinook, came in conjunction with Jackson's initial appearance before District Judge John McKeon on Tuesday. During the hearing, Jackson's attorneys entered two motions, one asking that Jackson undergo a psychological evaluation, and the other that the physical evidence collected by police be preserved for the defense team to analyze.

McKeon granted both motions. Jackson has until June 20 to complete the psychological evaluation. A hearing will be conducted to determine if Jackson is mentally competent to continue with the proceedings. If McKeon rules that Jackson can be tried, he will be arraigned Aug. 12 and enter a plea to the charges.

Jackson is represented by a team of three lawyers: Jeremy Yellin of Fort Benton and Havre, Bob Peterson of Havre and Ed Sheehy of Missoula. Yellin was not present during Tuesday's hearing.

Rutherford was killed in a field near a power substation along U.S. Highway 2 southwest of Harlem. He and Janis were dispatched about 10 p.m. to respond to a domestic disturbance at a Harlem trailer home. Officials said Rutherford was dispatched from his home, where he was off duty, and arrived first. When Janis arrived, witnesses told him that Rutherford was chasing Jackson through a field near mile marker 425 of the high way.

Janis had difficulty locating Rutherford due to the darkness until he saw Rutherford's flashlight in the field, the document said. Janis ran to Rutherford's location, where both deputies attempted to subdue and arrest Jackson, according to the document.

After Rutherford and Janis were shot, Janis returned fire but missed. After a brief stand-off, Jackson stripped his clothes and surrendered, said witness Scott Baker, who assisted Janis in making the arrest.

Havre Assistant Police Chief Mike Barthel is leading the investigation of the incident.

Jackson is also accused of assaulting another man on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation just prior to the shooting. Tribal Police Chief Rob Williams said Jackson attacked a man in a vehicle, biting the man's face. Part of the man's ear was found in the vehicle, Williams said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.

 

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