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Man accused of ramming Billings patrol cars facing 50 years in prison

Posted at 2:44 PM, Oct 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-22 16:44:10-04

The man accused ramming three Billings officers, injuring one and drawing fire from two, has been charged with four felonies and faces up to 50 years in prison.

William Chenry Melcher, 30, made his first appearance in Yellowstone County Justice Court Monday afternoon for the Oct. 9 incident. He is charged with four felonies: two counts of assault with a weapon, criminal endangerment and criminal mischief. He also faces $150,500 in fines.

His bail was set at $100,000. Prosecutors said he is on felony probation for meth possession and has active warrants for probation violations.

Prosecutors said in charging documents that Melcher had used meth before he was approached by police at the Holiday gas station in downtown Billings just before 3 a.m.

He admitted that he panicked when he saw police because he was driving a truck stolen from a nearby business the previous day.

Melcher was spotted in the stolen truck driving from the Albertsons grocery store parking lot across Sixth Avenue North into the Holiday lot.

Three Billings patrol cars boxed the truck between the north side fuel pumps and the convenience store with lights activated. The truck accelerated backward, crashing into Officer Tracy Icard's vehicle, then flipped around and crashed into the fence at the neighboring business, Ryan Automotive.

The vehicle stalled, and the other two officers, Brett Hilde and Jeremy Boeckel, jumped out and yelled for the truck's driver to raise his hands. He instead rammed into the patrol cars multiple times until the Hilde and Boeckel opened fire, striking him multiple times. Both officers have said they believed they and others at the gas station were in danger.

Melcher was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. He was released and booked into Yellowstone County jail Friday, Oct. 18.

Melcher's arraignment is scheduled for 10 a.m. Oct. 30.

Hilde and Boeckel were placed on paid administrative leave, the typical move following an officer-involved shooting. Billings police have not said if they are back on patrol.

Icard was taken to a local hospital with neck and jaw pain. He is in ongoing medical treatment, according to prosecutors.

Billings police estimate the damage to three patrol cars was more than $70,000.