UPDATED: Missoula County sheriff's deputy cleared in lethal shooting of Black man

Zoe Buchli

Following an hours-long coroner’s inquest on Thursday, a Missoula County jury found a Missoula sheriff’s deputy not criminally responsible in the lethal shooting of a Black man last summer.

Johnny Lee Perry II, who was 31, died after Missoula County Sheriff’s Deputy Sean Evans fired lethal shots at him last August. Perry died from a gunshot wound to the back.

Deputies responded to a 911 call on Southside Road, about 2 miles from the Deep Creek bridge. The caller reported her father had been threatened by Perry, who the reporting party said was wielding a machete and threatening her father with it. Perry did not have a gun.

“It was predicted and expected, due to the narrative of the inquest,” Perry’s mother, Lesha White, said of the jury’s decision. “My son was not represented.”

The jury deliberated for roughly 45 minutes.

Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Coroner Jessie Billquist-Jette oversaw the inquest held at the Missoula County Courthouse. Missoula County Deputy Attorney Mark Handelman represented the state.

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