Christopher Nicholas Hiatt, 34, is charged with a rather novel form of assault in Montana: he licked the eyeball of an arresting officer. For that bizarre act, he is charged with felony assault on a peace officer and assault with a bodily fluid in addition to two other charges.
Police were responding to a reported theft and encountered Hiatt who had an outstanding warrant from another county. He struggled with police when they sought to handcuff him and, as they pushed him into the back of a cruiser, he licked an officer’s eye.
Assault by licking fits the state provision on assault with a bodily fluid, which is written broadly:
45-5-214. Assault with bodily fluid. (1) A person commits the offense of assault with a bodily fluid if the person purposely causes one of the person’s bodily fluids to make physical contact with:
(a) a law enforcement officer, a staff person of a correctional or detention facility, or a health care provider, as defined in 50-4-504, including a health care provider performing emergency services, while the health care provider is acting in the course and scope of the health care provider’s profession and occupation:
(i) during or after an arrest for a criminal offense;
(ii) while the person is incarcerated in or being transported to or from a state prison, a county, city, or regional jail or detention facility, or a health care facility; or
(iii) if the person is a minor, while the youth is detained in or being transported to or from a county, city, or regional jail or detention facility or a youth detention facility, secure detention facility, regional detention facility, short-term detention center, state youth correctional facility, health care facility, or shelter care facility; or
(b) an emergency responder.
(2) A person convicted of the offense of assault with a bodily fluid shall be fined an amount not to exceed $1,000 or incarcerated in a county jail or a state prison for a term not to exceed 1 year, or both.
(3) The youth court has jurisdiction of any violation of this section by a minor, unless the charge is filed in district court, in which case the district court has jurisdiction.
(4) As used in this section, the following definitions apply:
(a) “Bodily fluid” means any bodily secretion, including but not limited to feces, urine, blood, and saliva.
(b) “Emergency responder” means a licensed medical services provider, law enforcement officer, firefighter, volunteer firefighter or officer of a nonprofit volunteer fire company, emergency medical technician, emergency nurse, ambulance operator, provider of civil defense services, or any other person who in good faith renders emergency care or assistance at a crime scene or the scene of an emergency or accident.
Under this law, any amount on spit or saliva contacting any part of the body of an officer can result in a criminal charge. This would also mean that if Hiatt kissed the hand of an officer, he could face the same charge under the law. Of course, licking an eyeball is just plain creepy.