The Bozeman, Mont., Police Department released the name of the police officer who shot and killed a man early Friday morning at a home on the city’s south side after responding to an assault call.
Bozeman Police Sgt. Ben Green, a 12-year veteran of the department, shot and killed Eric David Sauerhagen, 31, early Friday morning after Sauerhagen, armed with a hatchet and a handgun, reportedly came at officers during an assault call.
Green remains on paid administrative leave while the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation and the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office investigate the shooting.
Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert said Green would face a hearing to determine whether shooting Sauerhagen was justified.
Lambert said he would be working with Park County Coroner Al Jenkins to conduct the hearing. State law prohibits a coroner who serves as a peace officer to conduct the hearing if the person was killed by a peace officer, meaning Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin, who is also coroner, can’t conduct the hearing.
DCI must finish its investigation and receive lab results and forensic information it requested before a hearing could be scheduled for Green, Lambert said. That could take months, he said.
“We’ll need to get that all together and get that compiled before we could think about setting a time,” Lambert said.
The hearing will be similar to a jury trial and review evidence DCI has gathered from the shooting, he said. Lambert would likely ask for seven jurors to make findings on the shooting.
Based on the jurors’ findings, Lambert will decide whether to file criminal charges against Green.
Bozeman Police Chief Steve Crawford has said the actions of Sauerhagen placed the lives of officers and the man reportedly assaulted by him in jeopardy. At a press conference after the incident, Crawford said Green’s use of force was appropriate.
The shooting happened after a 911 call late Thursday night. A caller reported his roommate, later identified as Sauerhagen, was drunk and was assaulting him.
Several officers responded to 3172 Summer View Lane, not far from Sacajawea Middle School, at 11:44 p.m. The person who reported the assault was outside. His assailant, Sauerhagen, was still inside.
Officers communicated with Sauerhagen from outside the home. They instructed him to come to the door and comply with officers. Sauerhagen moved toward officers with a hatchet and a handgun.
Green shot Sauerhagen, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
None of the officers were injured in the incident.
The shooting comes almost 13 years after Bozeman police last shot a suspect.
In June 2006, then-Bozeman Police Lt. Rich McLane shot Gary James Gottfried dead during a traffic stop. A jury later determined McLane handled the situation appropriately.