Assance charged with additional counts of assault with a weapon

·3 min read

Mar. 26—Prosecutors have brought additional charges against a man shot and injured by sheriff's deputies during a domestic disturbance call in January.

Tristan Kirk Assance, 33, faces two additional counts of assault with a weapon and one count of misdemeanor unlawful restraint in Lincoln County District Court. He previously pleaded not guilty to three counts of felony assault with a weapon and two counts of misdemeanor criminal destruction or tampering with a communication device.

The amended charging documents allege that Assance leveled a firearm at two deputies during the incident, accounting for the additional assault with a weapon charges.

It remains unclear if Assance fired his alleged firearm during the incident. In a review of the investigation into the law-enforcement involved shooting, County Attorney Marcia Boris wrote that Assance posed a threat to the responding Lincoln County Sheriff's Office deputies.

Authorities have not identified the deputy who shot Assance.

"It is clear from our review that the deputy believed [Assance], who was armed with a handgun and a large knife, had fired a shot at another law enforcement officer present at the scene," said Boris wrote. "The level of force employed by the deputy was commensurate with the threat posed by the subject."

Assance pleaded not guilty to the additional charges in court on March 22, appearing via video conferencing technology from the Lincoln County Detention Center. Despite the amended charges, officials will stick to the original schedule. An omnibus hearing is set for May 3 with a pretrial conference to follow on June 7. Were the case to go to trial, it would begin the week of July 13.

Authorities allege that Assance became distraught Jan. 13 after learning a trip to the Libby area likely violated his probation — he was on house arrest in Canada at the time — and would result in an arrest warrant.

According to court documents, Assance and the victim of the domestic disturbance call went on a harrowing drive into Libby that day. One of Assance's assault with a weapon charge stems from his allegedly threatening to crash the vehicle. He hit speeds of more than 100 miles per hour during the trip, court documents said.

Back at the victim's Fallen Bear Lane home that evening, an apparently intoxicated Assance built a fire in the nearby woodshed using gasoline, according to court documents. About 2 a.m., Jan. 14, the victim awoke to the noise of Assance allegedly bringing gas cans into her house. Another assault with a weapon charge stems from his threats to burn the house down with them in it.

He later allegedly pointed a loaded firearm at the victim, racking up another account of assault with a weapon. When he fired the gun off into the distance, an ejecting casing hit the victim, according to court documents.

The criminal destruction or tampering charges come from Assance allegedly seizing the victim's mobile device and destroying her landline phone. Prosecutors argue in court documents that Assance's actions interfered "substantially with [the victim's] liberty," hence the unlawful restraint charge.

Following the shooting, officials with outside agencies reviewed the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office's response. Officials placed the deputy involved on paid, administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

In late February, Undersheriff Brad Dodson confirmed the deputy had returned to work.

While investigators with the Flathead County Sheriff's Office and Kalispell Police Department issued a report based on their review of the incident, that document remains sealed.

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