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 on all charges after making a menacing YouTube video about city council members.
On February 14, 2020, Deputy County Attorney General Matt Jennings indicted Bryant with two felonies; threats and undue influence of public officials and intimidation.
The KGVO reported at the time that “Bryant was accused of threats or undue influence in political or official matters,” Jennings said. “The right of people to freedom of expression is of crucial importance in our society and, by all means, people have the right to engage in their government, but they do not have the right to speak out. threats against the people who make the decisions. Some of the things that have been alleged in this case are very disturbing and have resulted in charges against this individual for these threats. “
Bryant has been charged with threatening mass murder. According to court documents, Bryant admitted to a Missoula police officer that he made and posted a video in which he said he would “hunt people and exterminate them.”
At the time, Bryant’s bond was set at $ 100,000. Jennings says the Missoula County District Attorney’s Office has requested a high bond due to the nature of the threats. Judge Shane Vannatta refused to reduce the amount of the bond because he said the court was troubled by the nature of the allegations.
Later in February 2020, Missoula City Council members Jesse Ramos, Sandra Vasecka and John Contos requested patience and understanding regarding the case of Bryant, who suffered from PTSD during his military service.
Following the not guilty verdict at trial this week, City Councilor Ramos said he would welcome Bryant again to attend city council meetings.
“I hope he decides he wants to come back to the council and speak out as a citizen of Missoula,” Ramos said. “He has this right, and no citizen should be afraid to do so. I think if it had turned the other way and he had been condemned, I think it would have sent a very scary message to the citizens of Missoula and made them think twice before coming to speak to their elected officials during of the board meeting. “
Jennings said the two crimes would have been punishable by 10 years in prison and a fine of $ 50,000 each.