The trial of a 38-year-old Bismarck man accused of firing a shotgun at a law enforcement officer during a 15-hour standoff in 2015 kicked off on Tuesday.
A 12-member jury heard opening arguments in the trial of Branden Lyle Lyon, where a prosecutor and an attorney argued over whether evidence shows that Lyon intended to kill the officer.
Burleigh County Assistant State's Attorney Julie Lawyer told the jury that law enforcement found shotgun pellets at a garage where a SWAT officer had been stationed during the standoff.
Lyon's attorney, Thomas Glass, said Lyon never meant to fire at the officer, and there's evidence to back up his claim.
The police standoff occurred at a town house, 703 N. 35th St., on Oct. 12, 2015.
Lyon, who was an acquaintance of the homeowner, had taken firearms from a gun case in the home, including a rifle, Lawyer told jurors. The homeowner and her neighbor were sitting in the living room when Lyon entered the room. There was a heated exchange between Lyon and the two of them, and Lyon became angry.
Lyon allegedly pointed a rifle at the neighbor's head and "made comments about taking him out," said Lawyer, adding he also allegedly threatened to kill the homeowner's sons.
They left Lyon at the town house and called 911. A SWAT team was called in, and Lyon allegedly told a negotiator he did not want to go to jail, and "if law enforcement comes to the door, they’re going to get popped," Lawyer said.
Lawyer also stated that Lyon told police he would "take down" officers on the roof if they did not get down. One officer got down from the roof of the neighbor's garage, but the other stayed. Within an hour, a shot rang out and the officer on the roof said there was an explosion next to him. Lawyer said this turned out to be "debris" from a shotgun blast that came from the town house.
There were two more shotgun blasts from the home. Eventually, Lyon was taken into custody without incident.
Glass told the jury that the evidence — including where the shotgun blasts occurred — will dispute the state's assertion that Lyon intentionally aimed to kill the officer. Glass said the shotgun blasts occurred at a window where a blind had been drawn, and law enforcement officers had fired multiple rounds of tear gas canisters.
“Nobody could see in. Nobody could see out," Glass said.
Lyon also has been charged with two counts of terrorizing and the unlawful possession of a firearm. His trial is scheduled through Friday.