- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A Billings police officer was fired for falsely reporting that a pickup driver tried to run him over before a high-speed car chase.

Officer Todd Clyatt’s April 7 termination letter said he violated the department’s code of ethics, rules of conduct and emergency response/vehicular pursuit policies during the Jan. 31 traffic stop.

A supervising sergeant watched video of the traffic stop and chase from the patrol car’s onboard camera and said it did not show any evidence that the driver tried to hit Clyatt with the pickup.

“For reasons I still don’t fully understand, I said, I got on the radio and said he tried to run me over,” the termination letter recounts Clyatt telling a supervisor.

The letter said Clyatt reported he was driving 45 to 50 mph, when he actually reached speeds between 70 and 82 mph before ending the pursuit.

Later, Clyatt asked for time off due to recurring issues from a traumatic incident that happened while he worked as a security contractor. The department said he had done no such work.

Clyatt told supervisors he made up the incident because he needed time off due to stress and frustration, the letter said.

Police Chief Rich St. John wrote that Clyatt’s “perpetual lies attempting to justify the pursuit are untenable. Further, your admitted lies to get time off after the fact are indefensible and appear to be an attempt to avoid discipline.”

St. John said officers’ jobs come down to trust, integrity and credibility and “once that is damaged, it’s irreparable for an officer.”

Clyatt declined to comment on the advice of his attorney until an arbitration process concludes.

The suspect in the pursuit, Jason Anthony McNees, was arrested later on Jan. 31. He has been charged with felony criminal endangerment, theft and assault on a peace officer and misdemeanor fleeing or eluding a peace officer. Court records say the pickup McNees was driving was stolen and that he fought with officers when they tried to arrest him.

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