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A man charged with assaulting a Boulder Police officer in late November 2019 pleaded not guilty to the felony offense in Montana Fifth Judicial Court in Boulder Jan. 8. He also pleaded not guilty to criminal possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor.

The man, Devlin Howard, 38, remained in Jefferson County jail Monday with bond set at $50,000. Court documents state that he is a resident of Helena.

The charges Howard faces stem from an incident on Nov. 28, 2019. At about 3 a.m., a man later identified as Howard was reported slumped over in a vehicle that was parked across from 305 N. Adams St. in Boulder, court records show. Boulder Police officers Jordan Grimsrud and Kyle St. George responded to the location, where they found the vehicle parked with its windows rolled up and Howard sitting in the driver’s seat “with his head back.”

Grimsrud, who had walked up to the vehicle, knocked on a window and identified himself. Howard said that “he was waiting for someone in the house next door” and “did not seem coherent and was very confused about what was going on.”

Both officers then checked in with the person whom Howard said he was waiting for and were told that “she did not know what [Howard] was doing there” and that “the vehicle had been out there for about an hour before [the] officers showed up.”

After having a dispatcher run Howard’s drivers license and learning that it was suspended, Grimsrud asked Howard to get out of the vehicle. As Howard “slowly” did so, Grimsrud saw “what seemed to be a pipe sitting in the center console of the vehicle.”

After Howard was out of the vehicle Grimsrud went to pat him down, and “as he did [Howard] tried to run away.” As Grimsrud “grabbed for” Howard, Howard “turned and struck [Grimsrud] in the head and face,” causing the officer to be “injured and stunned.”

Asked by the officers why he tried to run, Howard told them that “he didn’t want to go back to jail.”

Court documents reviewed by The Monitor did not indicate what previous incarceration Howard was referring to. During Howard’s Jan. 8 court appearance, Jefferson County Chief Deputy Attorney Andrew Paul referred to Howard as having been “in and out of prison and probation” since at least 2006.

After Howard’s explanation for trying to run, he granted the officers permission to search the vehicle, which turned up a “blue tinted glass bong and a glass pipe used for the ingestion of methamphetamine.”

According to Montana statutes, the charge of assault on a peace officer is punishable by a prison term of not less than two years or more than 10, and a fine not to exceed $50,000. The charge of criminal possession of drug paraphernalia is punishable by a fine of not more than $500 or a jail sentence not to exceed six months, or both.

After accepting Howard’s not guilty pleas, Judge Luke Berger stated that a jury trial would be scheduled for the week of July 20.

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