Mental health assessment requested for man accused of attacking law enforcement

Feb. 4 – The Troy man accused of injuring Police Chief Katie Davis during his Jan. 2 arrest will undergo a mental health evaluation at Montana State Hospital.

Jonathan Joseph Peterson, 33, faces charges of assaulting a peace officer, disorderly conduct, intimidation, resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer following last month’s police chase in the small town. Officers repeatedly attempted to bring down Peterson using Tasers with little success, court documents show.

In an unopposed motion dated Jan. 24, defense attorney Keenan Gallagher asked the court to commit Peterson to the state mental hospital for up to 60 days. Meanwhile, staff were examining Peterson and producing a report regarding his mental health.

Specifically, Gallagher requested that the report include an opinion on Peterson’s understanding of legal process and his ability to assist in his defense. Gallagher also asked the report for an opinion on Peterson’s mental state with respect to the circumstances of his arrest.

According to court documents, Troy police began searching for Peterson after a resident complained he was knocking on their door. In an affidavit, Troy Police Officer Michael Miller recounted the ensuing chase, which led authorities along First Street, through a house, a backyard and onto Riverside Avenue.

As they attempted to corral Peterson, he allegedly charged at Davis and grappled with her. Miller wrote that he punched Peterson, believing he was looking for an object on Davis’s belt. The confrontation left Davis with a swollen and bleeding lip, according to court documents. When they called an ambulance crew to check on Peterson, he refused to go to a local medical center. According to Miller’s account, Peterson said the last time he visited the facility, “a surgeon cut his throat and placed purple circles on his chest.”

District Judge Matthew Cuffe was quick to grant Gallagher’s request. In his recognizance order, issued the same day, he ordered the sheriff’s office to transport Peterson to the mental health facility as soon as a bed becomes available.

He also forwarded Gallagher’s requests to staff at the public hospital.

“At the request of the defendant, the report includes “an opinion on the capacity of the defendant to have a particular state of mind which is an element of the offense charged” and “an opinion on the capacity of the defendant, due to of a mental illness or disorder or intellectual disability, to appreciate the criminality of the defendant’s conduct…” Cuffe wrote in the order.

Peterson’s arraignment in Lincoln County District Court was scheduled for Jan. 24. Held in the Lincoln County Detention Center on $100,000 bail at the time, he made a brief court appearance via video conferencing software before Cuffe announced the case would go forward. While on camera, Peterson again referenced his story of receiving purple circles during his last visit to a medical setting.

About Michael C. Lovelace

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