A Libby man was sentenced in Montana 19th Judicial District Court Monday to a two year deferred imposition of sentence for criminal endangerment and a suspended one-year sentence for partner or family member assault.
Thomas Creighton originally faced three charges for felony assault on a peace officer, one count of which was substituted by the felony criminal endangerment charge. He also faced a misdemeanor charge for smashing his wife’s cell phone during the incident that lead to the assault charge.
In an agreement reached with Lincoln County Attorney Marcia Boris, Creighton pleaded guilty Sept. 10 to the charges for which he was sentenced.
The maximum sentence Creighton could have faced for the charges he plead guilty to are up to one year for the assault and up to 10 years for criminal endangerment.
The charges stem from incidents that took place May 12, according to an affidavit from Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Streifling.
That night, Streifling spoke with Elvie Creighton, the spouse of Thomas Creighton, and Abigail and Jared Creighton, their adult children.
According to the affidavit, Elvie said Thomas had earlier grabbed her by the hair and jerked her head forward while insulting her. Elvie also said that he smashed her phone on the floor when she attempted to use it to call for help.
Elvie Creighton said that Thomas was intoxicated that day, and that though he had quit drinking years before, he had started drinking again in the past year. Since then his drinking and abusive behavior had escalated.
Streifling cited two previous reports by Elvie Creighton of abuse by Thomas. He noted she filed for a divorce that has not been finalized.
Elvie Creighton, and her adult children, expressed fear for her safety, according to the affidavit.
Streifling drove to the Creighton home that night, accompanied by deputies John Davis and Brandon Holzer.
According to the affidavit, Streifling entered the open garage, went up a short stair, knocked on the back door, and “loudly announced myself as a Sheriff’s Deputy and told Mr. Creighton that I needed to talk to him about Elvie.”
The affidavit alleges that Creighton said to “Turn off your flashlight or you’re going to get your (self) shot.”
Streifling stated that he turned off his flashlight and moved to the bottom of the stairs, keeping an eye on the door. He stood to the left while Davis moved to the right and Holzer stayed near the open garage doors.
Holzer stated in his affidavit that Creighton exited the door holding “what appeared to be a gun.”
They later determined he had a sawed-off, 12-gauge shotgun loaded with three rounds, one in the chamber, and the safety off.
As Streifling moved to the left, he stated that Creighton exited the door and stood atop the landing. The deputies drew their weapons and yelled for him to drop the gun, their affidavits state, but he did not comply.
According to Davis’ affidavit, the shotgun “was pointed in our direction as we retreated for cover.” Streifling’s affidavit alleges that, from behind the window of one of the open garage doors, he saw the muzzle of the shotgun swing from where Holzer stood to where Streifling stood.
Streifling and Holzer both stated that they were preparing to shoot Creighton when Davis tased him, but as he recovered from the tasing, Creighton reached for the shotgun.
Then, Streifling wrote that Holzer ran from his position by the door and up the short stairway, putting one foot on the shotgun and the other on Creighton’s neck.
In Holzer’s affidavit, he states he advanced on Creighton and saw him trying to raise the shotgun with his hand.
“I jumped in the air trying to evade getting shot in the leg. I used my right foot to stomp the gun back down to the ground. I then proceeded to strike Thomas in the face neck area with my left boot,” the affidavit states.
The deputies detained Creighton, taking him to jail after searching the residence.