Alliance For Hope International reports more than ten percent of U.S. women killed each year are strangled.
This week, a  special ‘Strangulation: From 911 To Prosecution’  orientation in Billings aims to educate participants on recognizing and reacting to signs of strangulation before it’s too late.
The 8 hour training will be led by Dr. Bill Smock, a police surgeon for the Louisville Metro Police Department. Smock is currently a Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine and travels the country to spread information regarding strangulation.
“It can be anybody,” Smock said, “the whole socioeconomic spectrum. It can be the wife of an executive, the wife of a minister…all walks of life.”
Smock introduces one 36-year-old woman, Tanika, who was strangled by her husband.
“There was so much pressure applied to the arteries in her neck, that they were torn inside,” Smock said.
On the exterior, Tanika showed no sign of the trauma she endured during strangulation.
“Half of fatal strangulations have no external trauma,” Smock warned, “left untreated, she would have gone home, stroked, and possibly died.”
Thankfully, one domestic violence detective urged Tanika to go to the hospital, where one CT angiography scan showed the very real and very serious damage caused to this strangulation victim’s body. Smock uses Tanika’s case as an example of how appropriate response to strangulation can save lives.
Smock said these CTA scans are the most appropriate way to check for internal damage caused by strangulation, and it’s important for law enforcement, medical professionals, and others dealing with a case of strangulation to ask the right questions.
“When you’re dealing with someone who may have been strangled, you want to ask open-ended questions,” Smock said. “Ask them what they experienced, if they had changes in vision, if they passed out, lost control of their bowels…these are some side effects of strangulation.”
Smock also warns of the brain damage strangulation induces.
“When you deprive the brain of oxygen, it only takes six point eight seconds to render someone unconscious,” Smock said,  “and after that brain cells begin to die.”
As suggested in the training’s title, the goal of the strangulation session is to teach Billings dispatchers and officers the appropriate questions to ask someone who may have been strangled. The grant-funded training will also include local medical professionals, sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE), prosecutors, SROs and even school counselors who may encounter children involved in strangulation play.
“The more officers know about it, what to look for, the better they can ask the right questions and find out what’s going on,” said BPD Domestic Violence Investigator, Katie Nash.
Nash said she works with 500 to 600 domestic assault cases a year, and strangulation is a frequent occurrence.
“Just knowing how prevalent it is,” Nash said, “If we don’t have safe homes, we are not a safe community.”
In Idaho, someone found guilty of strangulation may face up to 15 years in state prison. Smock said Montana is 1 of 9 states lacking strangulation statutes.
KULR-8 reached out to the Montana Attorney General’s office and District Attorney’s Office regarding strangulation cases in our state. We will continue updating you on air and online as we investigate further.
The ‘Strangulation: From 911 To Prosecution’ training will be held Thursday and Friday. For more information about the program behind it, you can visit