- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 25, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A veteran who threatened police during a seven-hour standoff outside his home on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation will serve no prison time after a federal judge agreed with concerns Wednesday that the isolation and inactivity would jeopardize the man’s recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder.

U.S. District Judge Robert Jones instead sentenced Johnathan Courtney to probation and warned him never to drink alcohol.

In September 2015, police responded to a report that an intoxicated person had fired shots inside the home.

A standoff ensued and at one point, Courtney pointed a 9-mm Glock pistol at the Warm Springs police chief and began counting down from three. The chief who was 15 yards away quickly backed off. Courtney later aimed the pistol at a sergeant and accidentally shot a neighbor in the leg during a struggle on the porch.

Courtney pleaded guilty last fall to assault on a federal officer. Assistant U.S. Attorney Hannah Horsley recommended a sentence of 21 months in federal prison.

Courtney had support in the courtroom Wednesday from his wife, parents, members of the tribe and veterans.

Psychologist Suzanne Best testified the former Army Ranger and highly decorated Iraq War veteran has PTSD and suffers from survivor’s guilt because of eight soldiers who died under his command. She said he’s made excellent progress in treatment since the standoff, but would regress in prison.

“It’s certainly my opinion - more likely than not, if not almost guaranteed - that his symptoms will be exacerbated by incarceration,” she said. “He will have a surge of symptoms, including intrusive images as well as nightmares.”

Courtney spoke briefly before the sentence was handed down, tearfully apologizing for his actions.

Jones told Courtney the officers could have justifiably killed him for pointing a weapon while being “drunk out of your mind.”

“You imposed on these police officers the same kind of trauma you are now suffering from,” Jones said.

But the judge supported the defense argument that he’s been an otherwise solid member of the community and prison would do more harm than good.

Though Courtney’s probation lasts five years, Jones noted the high rate of alcohol use on reservations and told the 36-year-old to have a lifetime of sobriety.

“Whether it’s genetic or whether it’s cultural, it’s there; and you cannot touch an ounce of liquor the rest of your life,” he said. “You just can’t do that. And I think you know that.”

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