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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Montana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 21, 2022

U.S. Attorney's Office Closes Investigation Into Officer Involved Shooting in Lame Deer

BILLINGS  — U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich announced that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Montana is closing its investigation into the Dec. 2, 2021 fatal shooting of Arlin Bordeaux by a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) officer in Lame Deer, on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation.

“After a thorough investigation by the FBI into the shooting of Mr. Bordeaux by a BIA officer and an extensive review by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the office has declined to prosecute the case.

“According to the evidence reviewed during the investigation, the shooting occurred when a BIA officer responded to a call of a suspicious man near a residence and encountered Mr. Bordeaux, who was acting in a peculiar manner. Mr. Bordeaux disobeyed orders to stop and get on the ground and began fighting with the officer. The responding officer called for assistance and a second BIA officer arrived. Using non-lethal methods, including tasers, both officers tried unsuccessfully to gain control of Mr. Bordeaux, who was taller and heavier than the officers. During the fighting, Mr. Bordeaux obtained the assisting officer’s taser and was within arm’s reach of the responding officer. Believing the taser could incapacitate the responding officer or himself, the assisting officer shot Mr. Bordeaux twice. The first shot was through the back. The assisting officer shot Mr. Bordeaux a second time, in the shoulder, because Mr. Bordeaux again reached for the taser while he was still within arm’s reach of the responding officer. Both officers received minor injuries.

“An autopsy determined that the first shot did not incapacitate or kill Mr. Bordeaux, while the second shot nicked his heart and killed him. The autopsy also showed that Mr. Bordeaux had methamphetamine in his system.

“Evidence reviewed in the investigation included law enforcement video and audio files, interviews of the officers and the person who called the police, and autopsy records.

“As in all cases under its consideration, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is responsible for determining whether the government can prove each element of a federal crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Under the applicable federal criminal civil rights statute, prosecutors would have to establish that the assisting officer’s actions were objectively unreasonable under the circumstances, and that his actions were willful. To establish willfulness, the government must show that the officer acted with deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids – one of the highest standards of intent imposed by law. An officer reasonably believing that he or she is acting in self-defense or defense of others – even if predicated on mistake, misperception, negligence or poor judgment – is insufficient to establish this high standard. 

“After a careful and thorough review into the facts surrounding the shooting, the evidence, when viewed as whole, is insufficient to prove that the officer’s actions were ‘objectively unreasonable’ under the law. The evidence is also insufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer acted willfully, that is with the specific intent to break the law.

“Accordingly, the investigation into this tragic incident has been closed. This decision is limited to the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s inability to meet the high legal standard required to prosecute the case under the applicable federal civil rights statute; it does not reflect an assessment of any other aspect of the shooting.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to investigating allegations of excessive force by law enforcement officers and will continue to ensure that all such allegations are fully investigated and aggressively prosecuted whenever there is sufficient evidence to do so.”

Contact: 
Clair Johnson Howard Public Affairs Officer 406-247-4623
Updated July 21, 2022