Brandon Bryant Found Not Guilty of Threats and Intimidation
After a three day trial in Missoula District Court this week, Staff Sergeant Brandon Bryant was found not guilty of all charges after making a threatening YouTube video about city council members.
On February 14, 2020, Chief Deputy County Attorney Matt Jennings, charged Bryant with two felonies; threats and improper influence of public officials and intimidation.
KGVO reported at the time that “Bryant had been charged with threats or improper influence in political or official matters,” Jennings said. “People’s right to free speech is critically important in our society and by all means, people have a right to engage in their government, but they don’t have a right to make threats against those people that are making the decisions. Some of the things that were alleged in that case are very disturbing and resulted in charges being brought against that individual for those threats.”
Bryant was accused of threatening mass murder. According to court documents, Bryant admitted to a Missoula police officer that he made and posted a video where he said he would ‘hunt people and exterminate them.’
At the time, Bryant’s bail was set at $100,000. Jennings says the Missoula County Attorney’s Office asked for a high bail amount because of the nature of those threats. Judge Shane Vannatta refused to lower the bond amount because he said the court was disturbed by the nature of the allegations.
Later in February of 2020, Missoula City Council members Jesse Ramos, Sandra Vasecka and John Contos asked for patience and understanding regarding the case of Bryant, who had suffered from PTSD from his military service.
Following the not guilty verdict in the trial this week, Councilman Ramos said he would welcome Bryant back to participate in City Council meetings.
“I hope that he does decide that he wants to come back to Council and speak up as a citizen of Missoula,” said Ramos. “He has that right, and no citizen should ever be afraid to do it. I think that if this would have gone the other way and he was convicted, I think that would have sent a very chilling message to the citizens in Missoula and made them think twice about coming down and speaking to their elected officials in the council meeting."
Jennings said the two felonies would have carried a 10 year prison sentence and a $50,000 fine each.
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