Assance arraigned in district court

·3 min read

Feb. 23—The man shot and injured by a Lincoln County Sheriff's Office deputy during a domestic disturbance call in January has pleaded not guilty to the charges stemming from the incident.

Tristan Kirk Assance, 32, faces three felony counts of assault with a weapon and two misdemeanor counts of criminal destruction or tampering with a communications device. He was arraigned in Lincoln County District Court on Feb. 8.

According to court documents and a law enforcement press release, deputies responded to a home on Fallen Bear Lane about 8:30 a.m., Jan. 14 for a report of a domestic disturbance. While the documents do not detail the events immediately preceding the shooting or the shooting itself, they summarize Assance's alleged downward spiral in the day before the confrontation.

Assance was sentenced to nine months of house arrest in Canada when he crossed the border and headed to the Libby area to stay with the victim of the disturbance, documents said. He became agitated on Jan. 13 when he discovered the trip violated the terms of his probation and would result in a warrant for his arrest.

The victim described Assance's allegedly increasingly erratic behavior to Detective David Hall of the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office, according to an affidavit of probable cause. Driving into town on Jan. 13, he hit speeds between 80 and 104 miles per hour, court documents said.

After leaving him to his own devices in Libby for several hours, the victim picked him up near a local merchant about 5 p.m. Assance allegedly smelled of vodka and was very angry, "screaming and yelling."

Arriving back at Fallen Bear Lane, Assance built a fire in the woodshed using gasoline, court documents said. While swinging a hatchet at the door, he allegedly accused the victim of calling the authorities. She denied it and extinguished the fire.

The two later went to sleep, him on the couch and the victim in her bedroom. According to court documents, she awoke to noises downstairs about 2 a.m. She found that Assance had brought gas cans into the house. He began to threaten her, court documents said, and when she tried to call law enforcement on her cell phone, he took it from her.

Assance also broke the house phone. The victim had another mobile phone in the house, but she was afraid to retrieve it. Assance was threatening to burn the house down with her in it, she told Hall.

Assance then allegedly began imploring the victim to kill him. She admitted that, at one point, she leveled an unloaded .38 revolver at him, court documents said. She wanted him to leave, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

He began drinking alcohol again, the victim said, and pacing around with her firearm. During a brief break for a cigarette, he allegedly put the gun to his head and then fired it into the distance. An ejecting casing hit the victim in the head, court documents said.

The disturbance headed into its final stage after the victim got her mobile phone back from Assance. Using that, she was able to contact a friend, who came over. The victim instructed her to contact authorities, court documents said.

After the deputy-involved shooting, Assance was taken to Cabinet Peaks Medical Center and flown to Kalispell Regional Medical Center. No one else was injured in the incident.

Officials with the Flathead County Sheriff's Office and Kalispell Police Department are reviewing the deputy's actions during the shooting on behalf of the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office. Montana Highway Patrol has also aided in the investigation.

An omnibus hearing for Assance's case is scheduled for May 3 with a pretrial conference set for June 7. Were the case to go to trial, it would begin July 13.

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