Montana Man Charged After Licking Officer’s Eyeball

hiattChristopher 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.


49 thoughts on “Montana Man Charged After Licking Officer’s Eyeball”

  1. I’ve never known a nurse to charge anyone with assault for being spat on or urinated on. As a matter of fact I’m pretty sure if a nurse did press charges the employer would not look on it favorably.

    1. Annie – you clearly need the same union that the police have. 🙂

  2. Paul, those who work in the healthcare field have no such ability that I know of. He didn’t mean for me to stick my finger on his syringe, he was not exactly coherent.

  3. I should add the patient also gets the routine tests, if clean, nothing to worry about later. My guy was positive for Hepatitis C, but my screen later was negative. Thank goodness.

  4. Nurses and doctors are often at risk for exposure from pathogens in routine duties during the course of a shift from injections, irritations, anything that may splash, use your imagination. We also may be spat on, urinated at, vomited on and including some bodily fluids I won’t mention. I got a finger stick exposure once from a syringe in the pocket of a guy in the ER. I had all the standard tests, luckily they all came back negative, but it’s a big scare.

  5. MANY decades ago , it as o.k. in Ohio to resist an unlawful arrest .

    As I understand , it is now necessary to not resist and later sue (lawful) .
    As I understand , it is now possible to not resist and later ambush (not lawful) .

    BOTH method have apparently been used in Ohio at one time or another .

  6. A couple of observations.

    The defendant had an outstanding arrest warrant so that was the initial basis for the arrest.

    Next there is the issue of the pathogens. Diseases such as Hep-C, which can lead to liver failure and death, is trasmitted by saliva. When it comes into mucous membranes there is a risk of trasmission and infection. There are many examples of health care workers and police becoming infected by disease through this manner. This is a legitimate problem that workers in these areas face, especially with regard to spitting both saliva and blood onto victims.

    I can personally vouch for this. I had a violent struggle with a man who was so aggressive he attempted to pull my pistol out of its holster while I was wrestling with him on the floor while trying to arrest him. He spat in my face, into one eye and on my lips. A judge ordered him to have a blood draw to screen for pathogens. Forunately he had none.

    Another time I received a Hep-C exposure when a known Hep-C positive offender violently resisted arrest. He had a lot of blood on him before we got involved and when we did he flailed around with his bloody hands, flicking blood all over and I got exposed. Knowing he was Hep-C positive, I can say this was in the top three most unnerving and harrowing arrests of my career because frankly I was scarred sh–tless I was going to come down with Hepatitus while trying to arrest him. I had to go through three Hep-C screenings over seven or so months just to make certain I did not contract the disease.

    So I can fully understand the reason for this law and why officers decided to charge him as they did.

    1. Darren – as far as I can see, laws like this are just one more box for police to tick when they are over charging someone.
      If, and I say if, the person is HIV or Hep-C positive, I have no problem with charging them with attempted murder or assault. In this case the law is so open that even someone who, like myself, generates more saliva then needed and it tends to spray when talking sometimes, would be charged with an offense.
      When I first came to Arizona it was statutorily legal to resist an illegal arrest. Now almost every arrest I read about has a ‘resisting arrest’ charge added to it. It is a method of making the stats look good.

  7. I thought cops wanted you to lick their eyeballs, or maybe it’s some other balls, or their boots – who can keep up with this fancy new police state stuff?

    1. Tom – I think the sexual orientation of the licker and lickee make a difference in these cases. In this case, had the licker been female, there would probably be no charges filed for assault, just trading of phone numbers.

  8. Paul Schulte

    Dredd – I am really hoping this one goes to trial. 🙂
    They will have to give his tongue some novacaine so he does not look like a commodo dragon in front of the jury.

    1. Dredd – I am thinking of the cross for the officer explaining how or why he got his face that close to the defendant. 😉

  9. ¿ WHAT IF an officer were exuding pheromones by the liter and the contact was mutually acceptable ?

  10. What’s creepy is that legislatures are manufacturing crimes to glorify police.

  11. Have you noticed the rise in prisoners who struggle when being arrested, causing a rise is the charge ‘resisting arrest?’

  12. I discussed this in a previous thread. Police unions are very strong in the legislature, offender unions, not so much. This is one of those where you are going to go for jury nullification or win on appeal.
    What you do want to bet that they plea bargain this, they have several charges, so they clearly over-charged him?
    In defense of the Montana legislature, they meet every other year for 6 weeks. If only all state legislatures, and the feds, followed in their footsteps.

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