POLSON – What authorities said was an attempted “suicide-by-cop” has bought Shilo Brown five felony convictions.
That’s the bad news for the 36-year-old Brown.
The good news was that he was still alive last week to go on trial.
None of the three officers, two from the Lake County Sheriff’s Department and one from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, took the bait when Brown pointed a rifle at them during the brief Oct. 13 nighttime standoff.
“It was a situation where deadly force was warranted,” Lake County deputy prosecutor Jessica Cole-Hodgkinson said. “It’s remarkable everyone walked away alive.”
Deputy Joel Diaz and CSKT Police Officer Ben Asencio responded to a report from Brown’s sister that Brown had a gun and was threatening to kill himself, according to Cole-Hodgkinson.
The two took up position behind trees about 1,500 yards from the St. Ignatius home where Brown was reportedly in possession of the firearm, she said, and were waiting for Lake County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tony Buff to join them when they heard one shot, and possibly two, fired.
Diaz and Asencio “beat feet” to the house, Cole-Hodgkinson said, and Buff arrived shortly after.
Still armed with the rifle, Brown made his way onto the roof of the house with both his sister and mother in tow. An aunt remained inside the home.
Asencio and Buff also moved to the roof, while Diaz stayed on the ground.
Brown aimed the rifle at the officers in what Cole-Hodgkinson said was an attempt to get one of them to shoot him.
The officers testified that they did not fire their weapons at Brown when he took aim at them for a number of reasons, Cole-Hodgkinson said, including the fact that he had two hostages with him, and because the incident took place in a homesite where a stray bullet could have injured or killed a neighbor.
A shot that only wounded Brown, they added, would not necessarily stop him from opening fire, and could have escalated the incident.
What they had no way of knowing at the time was that the rifle, which was definitely fired once and possibly twice in the moments before the officers approached the house, was no longer loaded.
Cole-Hodgkinson, who prosecuted the case, said Brown’s attorney presented a mental health defense, arguing that Brown suffers from depression and was unable to act purposely.
Diaz happened to be wearing an “eyeglass camera” that records video, and the jury was able to watch the incident play out. The camera was a “demo” model that Diaz was trying out.
The video lasted 23 minutes from the time Diaz and Asencio took up position behind the trees, until Asencio and Buff got close enough on the roof to Brown to tase him and bring the situation to a close. The portion of the video showing the confrontation between the officers and Brown lasted about 4 1/2 minutes, Cole-Hodgkinson said.
Brown was charged with three counts of assault on a peace officer, one count of assault with a weapon for also pointing the rifle at his sister during the incident, and one count of criminal endangerment because of the threat it posed to the neighborhood.
The jury deliberated for 3 1/2 hours before convicting Brown on all counts after a four-day trial before District Court Judge Kim Christopher.
Brown faces a maximum of 60 years in prison when Christopher sentences him on June 6.