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Montana man sentenced for tussle with Bismarck police

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A Montana man who struggled with Bismarck police after they responded to a report that he was brandishing a firearm avoided prison time Monday, but the judge’s order of probation came with a stern warning that it was the man's “one and only shot.”

Michael Warren, 56, of Columbus, Montana, entered an Alford plea on charges of terrorizing, preventing arrest and illegally carrying a concealed weapon. An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt, but the defendant acknowledges there is enough evidence that a jury would return a guilty verdict. Courts treat Alford pleas as guilty pleas.

Warren told South Central District Judge Daniel Borgen that he only meant to give his handgun to police when they encountered him at a Bismarck hotel.

“I had no intention ever of threatening or harming anyone in any way,” Warren said. “It’s something that shouldn’t have happened but it did.”

Warren allegedly struggled with Bismarck police in August 2020 after he reached for his gun as they attempted to search him for weapons. No officers were injured in the scuffle, authorities said. One officer considered pulling his own weapon but did not because of the risk of injury to others, Assistant Burleigh County State’s Attorney Mindy Anderson said during a Monday hearing.

Police in such a situation don’t know if a suspect reaching for a weapon will give it to them or point it at them, Borgen said.

“You’re lucky you weren’t shot and killed,” he said.

Borgen suspended a five-year prison sentence and gave Warren credit for 45 days served. A probation violation will result in prison time, Borgen said, adding that drugs and alcohol can't be part of Warren's future.

“This is your one shot on probation. It’s a one and only shot,” the judge said.

Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or Travis.Svihovec@bismarcktribune.com

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