BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A Montana police officer who fatally shot an unarmed robbery suspect this week had shot and killed another man who failed to comply with orders last year.
Authorities on Thursday named Officer Grant Morrison, a five-year veteran of the Billings Police Department, as the person who shot 38-year-old Richard David Ramirez during a traffic stop.
In February 2013, Morrison shot 32-year-old Jason James Shaw during a confrontation outside a suspected drug house. A coroner’s inquest ruled the shooting was justified after a combative Shaw had refused commands to get down and reached for a BB-gun in his pocket.
Family members of Ramirez said Thursday that they want criminal charges brought against Morrison and accused him of targeting the unemployed single father.
Ramirez’s sister, Lori, said Morrison knew her brother and other members of the family from prior encounters. She said her brother’s criminal history, including several arrests for drugs, had been wrongly used by authorities to rationalize Morrison’s actions.
“He was itching to get my brother,” she said. “Richard didn’t have to die. He liked to get high every now and then, but he was a good person.”
Like Shaw, authorities say Ramirez refused to comply with repeated orders after the vehicle he was in was pulled over. When he made a downward reaching movement during Monday night’s traffic stop, Morrison shot him three times.
Authorities said the officer had been pursuing the car in which Ramirez was a passenger because he’d been named as a suspect in a Sunday robbery in which a 61-year-old man was shot in the arm.
Billings Police Chief Rich St. John said Wednesday that Morrison’s actions were justified.
Video footage of the event clearly showed Ramirez moving his hands either up or down six times as Morrison orders him to stop, according to St. John.
A final determination on Ramirez’s death will be up to a coroner’s inquest. Morrison was placed on administrative leave after the shooting.
Lori Ramirez and other family members said they also knew Shaw - the man killed by Morrison last year.
Richard Ramirez’s younger brother, Jason Ramirez, was arrested in Lockwood on Wednesday night on an outstanding warrant.
Concern over Jason Ramirez’s whereabouts was one of the reasons cited by authorities to withhold Morrison’s name until Thursday.
Jason Ramirez had been wanted since Jan. 21 for failing to register as a violent offender and other charges.
Another brother, Daniel Ramirez, has been wanted since Feb. 4 for possession of dangerous drugs and burglary. He remains at large.
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