The Lewis and Clark County sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed a 62-year-old man last Wednesday in the east Helena Valley has been identified as Matthew Reighard, 31.
Douglas Francis Harper, 62, was wanted for arson in Musselshell County and had expressed suicidal thoughts in the last few weeks, according to court documents.
Deputies responded to Moore Court, just off Canyon Ferry Road, on May 29 to perform a welfare check on Harper.
Harper was sitting in his vehicle with a handgun and pointed it at the deputy, County Sheriff Leo Dutton said Thursday. He did not comply with orders to drop the weapon and the deputy fired his, Dutton said.
Reighard served in the U.S. Army with two deployments to Afghanistan, Dutton said. He began with the sheriff’s office for about three years as a detention officer before swearing in as a deputy in December 2007.
He had been a detective with the multi-agency Missouri River Drug Task Force and was rotated into patrol duties about two months ago, Dutton said.
“No law enforcement officer comes to work wanting to fire their weapon at a person, but each day they know it could be a possibility, to defend their life, or of another,” Dutton said in an email to reporters Sunday. “These events are hard on everyone involved.”
Reighard has been placed on administrative leave with pay, which is standard procedure in shootings involving an officer.
Dutton said the office’s internal investigation is expected to be completed Wednesday, assisted by the Montana Department of Criminal Investigation is assisting with the investigation.
More details of the incident will be released during an inquest conducted by County Coroner Mickey Nelson.