This case arises from Ronald Parsons’ (“Parsons”) actions that ended a police chase outside an elementary school in Helena in March of 2016. The city of Helena (“Helena”) charged Parsons with negligent endangerment and reckless driving because he maneuvered his truck and trailer to block the route of a suspect evading law enforcement, which caused the suspect to crash. The Arrest by a Private Person statute authorizes a person to use reasonable force to arrest another when there is probable cause to believe that the person is committing or has committed an offense. Parsons attempted to use this statute as a defense, but was barred from doing so as both the municipal court and the district court concluded that the statute was inapplicable to Parsons’ criminal case. The jury was therefore not instructed on the statute in any way, and Parsons was convicted on both charges. Parsons appeals what he contests were substantially prejudicial rulings, which led to his conviction. The main issue here is whether, by not instructing the jury on the Arrest by a Private Person statute, the court substantially prejudiced Parsons and deprived him of a fair trial.
Matthew Paoli-Asaro, Oral Argument Preview, City of Helena v. Parsons: Reckless Vigilante or Good Samaritan Done Wrong?, 79 Mont. L. Rev. Online 34, https://scholarship.law.umt.edu/mlr_online/vol79/iss1/6.