Man Charged With Assault After Attacking Whitefish Police Chief

Caleb Buzzell was charged with felony assault on an officer after allegedly breaking Whitefish police chief's nose

By Justin Franz

A 25-year-old Kalispell man has been charged with felony assault on a peace officer after he allegedly broke Whitefish Police Chief Bill Dial’s nose on Halloween night.

Caleb Buzzell is currently being held in the Flathead County Detention Center and will appear in Flathead County District Court on Nov. 13.

According to Dial, the Whitefish Police Department had received a report of an intoxicated man stumbling in the middle of Spokane Avenue and jumping out of brush and scaring children who were trick or treating on the evening of Oct. 31.

Dial was the closest officer and went to investigate. Dial said he found Buzzell stumbling around near the First Interstate Bank and yelling at passing cars and pedestrians. The suspect became agitated when Dial approached.

“I just wanted to know who he was so I could give him a ride home but then things escalated,” Dial said.

When Buzzell continued to scream and yell obscenities at people, Dial said he decided to use a Taser to subdue him and place him under arrest. But the Taser was ineffective because Buzzell had a heavy coat on. Dial said he then tried to physically subdue the suspect, but Buzzell then allegedly punched the police chief two or three times in the face, resulting in a broken nose, two black eyes and a few cuts.

Upon seeing the Buzzell punching the police chief, two onlookers ran over and helped subdue the man until another officer arrived. Buzzell was placed under arrest and charged with assault on a peace officer. If convicted Buzzell could face up to 20 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

According to Dial and various news reports, this was not the first time Buzzell has been charged with assault on a police officer. Earlier this year, Buzzell was given a deferred sentence after assaulting a Flathead County sheriff’s deputy in 2013.

Dial said his injuries were minor and he’s recovering fine. He noted that this isn’t the first time he has been punched while on the beat and he was thankful for the onlookers who helped.

“Thankfully there are still some good citizens out there,” he said. “(And) thankfully incidents like this don’t happen often.”

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