E-mail Story   Print Story
  Comments (7) Total Wednesday Apr. 23, 2014
Columbia Falls Woman Pleads Not Guilty to Assaulting Deputy
Prosecutors release KPD report clearing deputy of any wrongdoing after shooting
The Columbia Falls woman charged with a felony after a standoff ended in a SWAT deputy shooting her pleaded not guilty Thursday in District Court.

Michelle Gentry, 54, appeared before District Court Judge Robert Allison on Dec. 12, entering a not guilty plea to the charge of assault on a peace officer. The charge stems from an Oct. 10 standoff, in which Gentry allegedly held a handgun while advancing on responding officers outside a Columbia Falls residence.

Gentry was shot twice at the end of the standoff, sending her to Kalispell Regional Medical Center in critical condition.

Following her plea, the Flathead County Attorney's Office released two of the reports filed by Kalispell Police Department Capt. Scott Warnell after the shooting. The Flathead County Sheriff's Office, which had responded to a call about an armed suicidal woman, requested KPD's involvement after an FCSO deputy, Caleb Pleasants, shot Gentry.

According to the reports, the call about an armed, suicidal woman at an Eastland Crossroads residence came in on Oct. 10 at about 2 p.m. The woman had been involved in a family disturbance the night before, the report states, which also involved a gun.

Responding deputies got a hold of Gentry on the phone, and said she told them she didn't want their help, and that "if deputies came to the residence she would use the weapon and force them to shoot her."

This information was relayed up the chain of command, and a negotiations team was called in. After about two hours of unsuccessful negotiations, the undersheriff decided to call in the SWAT team.

"Based on Gentry's threats to use a firearm to harm herself or others, the Flathead County Sheriff's Office had an obligation to secure a perimeter around Gentry's residence, to prevent escape or entrance, until the incident was resolved," the report states.

SWAT got into position at about 6:20 p.m., and at about 6:40 p.m., Gentry allegedly opened a door and brandished the gun, screaming and waving it around. Moments later, SWAT watched Gentry leave through the main door and walk between two vehicles parked in the driveway.

Pleasants, who was covering the SWAT arrest team, said Gentry made eye contact with him, raised the handgun, pointed it at him and said, "Do it, do it, ****ing now!"

The deputy, who said he feared imminent death or serious bodily harm, fire multiple rounds from his duty-issued, .223-caliber AR-15 rifle at Gentry, not realizing most of the rounds had struck the cowling on the hood of the SWAT vehicle.

Pleasants reported that he first thought his weapon had malfunctioned, and when he looked up, Gentry continued to advance with the handgun pointed at him. He fired a second series of shots, hitting her twice. Pleasants fired a total of 15 rounds.

After Gentry received medical attention and it was determined there was no one else in the residence, the sheriff's office set up a crime scene perimeter and notified KPD to begin an investigation.

KPD Capt. Warnell concluded that the sheriff's office had a legal obligation to respond to Gentry's residence, and that during the final minutes of the recorded negotiations Gentry was aware of the law enforcement presence outside. Warnell also wrote that Pleasants stated he felt like he was "looking down the barrel" of the pistol as Gentry advanced on him, and that the deputy used "reasonable and necessary force" to stop the threat.

Pleasants, a six-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, was cleared for duty by an internal review board in early November. The deputy had been placed on administrative leave immediately following the shooting, according to Sheriff Chuck Curry, and the review board found he had not deviated from or failed to comply with policies and procedures within the sheriff’s office. The charging documents say Pleasants “responded with force accordingly” in the situation.
On 12-31-13, Looney_Tunes commented....
So why does Curry believe that this can be swept under the rug?  It’s readily apparent that an uninformed, armed member of the sheriff’s dept. might have a disorder from being injured in Iraq.  Why was this guy “not in the loop” regarding this incident?  Why…
Kellyn Brown
Kellyn Brown21h
I spent an afternoon in the park with a really cool kid named Jacob for this story on autism awareness. http://t.co/9UNSqZSfWV
Dillon Tabish
Dillon Tabish2h
Big happy birthday to @kellynjbrown!
Molly Priddy
Molly Priddy19h
@Lubchansky Where are you on this pain scale? http://t.co/U2MDitEdpl
Tristan Scott
Tristan Scott19 Apr
The Replacements just played with Billy Joe accompaniment! And played an encore! #Coachella2014
Flathead Beacon
FB Headlines3h
Tourist Season Is Coming. Are You Ready? http://t.co/PcIWeEhx79