MONROE — A Monroe-area man shot himself in the head during a confrontation with a Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy last month, according to newly released court records.
Millard James Tallant III, 62, also was hit in the chest by at least two bullets fired by deputy Dan Tenbrink.
An autopsy was inconclusive as to which of the bullets caused Tallant’s May 26 death. The manner of his death — suicide or the result of a police shooting — remains under investigation.
Tallant lost his job last year and was going through a divorce, according to a search warrant filed recently in Snohomish County courts. He didn’t tell his family or wife of 18 years about being laid off, instead using $100,000 of his retirement to pay bills. He moved in with his sister in Pierce County after his wife found out about the drained accounts.
Tallant was supposed to sign divorce papers late last month but instead showed up at his estranged wife’s house along Tester Road. It was around midnight. He said he had run out of gas nearby.
At 12:07 a.m., his wife called 911. She told dispatchers Tallant had been acting strangely and had been making vague comments about suicide for several days.
After a brief conversation with his wife at the door, Tallant started walking away from the house, records show. She called 911 again after she heard what she thought was a gunshot. A shell casing later was found near the house. It appeared to match his weapon.
On his way to the scene, the deputy ran a computer check that showed police had been called in December for a report that Tallant was suicidal. The records also showed Tallant had a permit to carry a handgun.
Tenbrink found Tallant’s Ford Focus stuck in an irrigation ditch off a private driveway along Tester Road. Both front doors were open, and Tallant was standing by the passenger side.
As Tenbrink approached, Tallant reportedly came around the side of his car, holding a black .380 pistol. He began walking toward the deputy, ignoring commands to drop the weapon, according to the report.
Tenbrink said he fired a shot when Tallant began to raise the gun toward him. When Tallant didn’t drop his gun, Tenbrink told investigators he fired three more times.
Tallant fell down and then Tenbrink heard a single shot, investigators wrote. Tallant died at the scene.
His cause and manner of death is pending further investigation by the county Medical Examiner’s Office. He had gunshot wounds to the chest, and one to the head. The autopsy determined the head wound was self-inflicted. One of the deputy’s bullets also went through his aorta, the main artery carrying blood from the heart.
Earlier this month detectives sought a judge’s permission to search Tallant’s phone and the Ford for potential evidence. Tallant’s text messages to his wife before the shooting were “distraught and angry,” but he didn’t make overt suicidal threats, detectives wrote.
Tallant was described by loved ones as having been quiet in recent months. He also suffered from depression and anxiety.
Tenbrink, 31, started with the sheriff’s office in 2007. He was placed on administrative leave after the shooting, a standard practice. The leave ended Wednesday, and Tenbrink will return to patrol next week, according to the sheriff’s office.
The investigation is being conducted by the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team, a group of homicide detectives from throughout the county.
The completed investigation will be reviewed by Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe, who will determine whether the use of force was legally justified. Roe’s decisions typically follow meetings with the families of those who died.
The entire process can take months or longer.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.