Limited coroner availability causes inquest delays in Missoula

Two pending Missoula cases involving use of force by police likely won’t see a courtroom until the fall.

The Missoula County Attorney’s Office currently has two inquests awaiting their day in court because of scheduling challenges and a shortage of coroners, according to Missoula Chief Criminal Deputy County Attorney Matt Jennings. Coroner’s inquests are public inquiries held in courtrooms that examine the causes of and circumstances surrounding the death of a person when they’re killed by law enforcement. 

Vance Ledeau, 34, was shot and killed by law enforcement at the Smokejumper Center last August. He was reportedly a robbery suspect, though very minimal details were provided in the aftermath of the shooting about Ledeau’s death and the circumstances leading up to it. Nearly a year later, an inquest for Ledeau isn’t on the county’s calendar. 

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Gary T. Duncan, a 45-year-old Missoula resident, died from a gunshot wound at the Clinton Market in February, a news release from the Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office stated. 

“Sheriff Holton said the coroner’s investigation concluded that the armed suspect/decedent displayed suicidal tendency and was ultimately killed by law enforcement at the scene,” the news release

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