Documents Reveal Gaffes at Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office

By Beacon Staff

BILLINGS – A Yellowstone County sheriff’s office commander forgetting his gun on the roof of his patrol car and seeing it break into pieces in his rearview mirror is among a number of previously undisclosed incidents revealed in documents obtained by a newspaper.

The documents also include information about a deputy who arrived for training with alcohol on his breath, accidentally discharged his firearm, and threw firecrackers out of his patrol car, The Billings Gazette reported Saturday.

Also detailed is a detective driven in a county car to a treatment facility in Minnesota for possible prescription drug abuse.

The documents are part of an employment dispute between the sheriff’s office and Deputy John Smith, who filed a retaliation complaint with the state Human Rights Bureau in September. The case has yet to be settled.

Smith’s attorney, Tim Kelly, collected hours of testimony from county officials and the sheriff’s office. The county released copies of the depositions to the newspaper, and Kelly agreed to give the newspaper disciplinary documents that came from the sheriff’s office.

Smith wants the sheriff’s office to make changes based on a review stemming from an earlier complaint Smith filed. Smith also seeks monetary damages and legal fees.

According to the documents, Lt. Mike Schieno received no punishment after his handgun fell off his car, saying in his deposition: “I seen pieces flying all over the place when I looked in my rearview mirror.”

Deputy Kevin Cunningham received written warnings for arriving for training with alcohol on his breath, accidentally discharging his firearm, and throwing firecrackers out of his patrol car.

In September 2008, Deputy Matt McCave accidentally discharged his stun gun in the sheriff’s briefing room and received a written warning. No one was injured.

Deputy Steve McCollum in 2003 was suspended for two days after refusing to respond to a disturbance, according to the documents, telling dispatchers he had just had breakfast and to let him know if the disturbance escalated. McCollum is now a sergeant.

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