A Kalispell man has lost his right to own firearms after pointing an AR-15-style rifle out of his trailer window at a deputy.
Flathead District Court Judge Robert B. Allison told Andrew Todd Westfall he was “lucky to be alive” during his sentencing March 1.
Flathead County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a 911 hang-up call involving a disturbance between Westfall and his girlfriend on Oct. 14, 2017. Westfall was reportedly very intoxicated when officers arrived at the scene. While one of the deputies reportedly made contact with Westfall’s girlfriend, Westfall refused to exit the home.
According to the police report, when a responding deputy looked into the trailer window, he reportedly saw Westfall pointing a semi-automatic rifle out the window in his direction. The deputy said the barrel of the gun looked to be “the size of a watermelon” as he realized what was happening. The deputy reportedly drew his weapon and ordered Westfall put the firearm down at least twice to before he complied.
Westfall admitted he had limited recollection of the night, but said he was “appalled and embarrassed” at his actions in court on Thursday.
When officers confiscated the rifle, they reportedly found a live round in the gun’s chamber and the safety was not on.
Westfall accepted a plea agreement that lessened his charge from assault on peace officer to criminal endangerment. He was sentenced to three years suspended with the Department of Corrections. A suspended sentence doesn’t require additional jail time, but necessitates the defendant adhere to specific rules and be supervised by the probation department.
Westfall’s defense attorney asked the judge to order a “deferred” three-year sentence with the Department of Correction.
A deferred sentence would give the judge more leeway to impose a stricter sentence if Westfall breaks the terms of his sentence, but could allow the felony charge to be dropped if Westfall successfully completed the sentencing term. According to his attorney, Westfall was prepared to take a slightly longer sentence if he could have a deferred sentence, because he didn’t want to give up his right to own a gun.
Judge Allison said while he did prefer a deferred sentence in some cases, this would not be one of them.
“I’ve been surprised, on at least a couple of occasions now in the past year or so ... that sheriff’s deputies have exhibited the restraint they have when a defendant is waving a gun around,” he said.
“I’m actually at a point where if you point a gun or an officer asks you to put a gun down and you don’t, I’m at a loss to understand why as a punitive measure I wouldn’t just send someone to state prison for an amount of time,” Allison said.
While the judge said he wouldn’t do that in this case, he also wouldn’t allow the defendant the ability to own and operate a firearm in the future.
“When you waved that firearm, you waived that right to possess a gun,” Allison told Westfall.
Reporter Breeana Laughlin can be reached at 758-4441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.