Posted: Jan 7, 2013 8:26 PM by MTN News
BILLINGS- At 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, 29-year-old Daniel Brawley and his 25-year-old wife, Heather Brawley, surrendered to the Billings police following a three hour long standoff on Miles Avenue.
But just minutes later-the incident ended in gunfire.
Daniel Brawley, who had been detained by flex grip zip ties, had managed to free his hands in the back of a police cruiser before crawling through a window partition to the driver's seat of the cruiser.
"The SWAT Team is equipped with these, what we call flex cuffs," said Billings Police Chief Rich St. John as he displayed two of the cuffs during a press conference Monday at City Hall. "Mr. Brawley had one of the flex cuffs attached to his right wrist, and the other wrist was free. So, somehow in the back seat he was able to slip his hand, his left hand out of the left flex cuff, and that would give him hands free access."
After quickly putting the cruiser in to gear, Brawley reversed the cruiser in to a tree on the 800 block of Miles Avenue-striking police officer Dave Punt in the process-before putting the car in to a forward gear and making his way west down the block.
"Part of our investigation is whether or not that partition was up," said St. John at the press conference.
"Generally it is, but we need to determine that. And if it was up-was it locked? Did it fail to function? "
Officer Punt managed to get to his feet and fire off nine rounds at Brawley, who was struck by one in the torso.
The cruiser then drifted to the right of the road, crashing in to two pickup trucks before coming to a stop.
Brawley did not survive the incident-although it remains unclear at what point he died-as he was rushed to the Billings Clinic before he was pronounced dead on Sunday.
The Billings Police Department chose to hold the press conference on Monday in order to address common questions the police department has been fielding in the past 24 hours.
St. John said many curiosities would not be satisfied until the investigation reaches its conclusion, a process which could take some time given the extent of an incident which includes a burglary, standoff, officer injury, officer involved shooting, shooting death and multiple vehicle accidents.
However, a few tidbits-such as insight into how Brawley was restrained-were provided.
For instance, several people commented online and at the scene on Sunday about the presence of police in the neighborhood from the night before.
St. John told media members on Monday that the previous night's presence and the standoff were related.
"We have information that they (the Brawley's) had been in the area both Miles and Terry," said St. John. "(They) potentially had gotten in to another house, been run off by some people. So, that was directly related to it."
The other key area the Billings Police Department concerned itself with when it came to the realm of public questioning surrounded its use of force policy and how it applied to how Officer Dave Punt reacted on Sunday.