At around noon on Sunday, Missoula Police officers were called to a report of an assault that occurred outside the Target store in the 2400 block of Reserve Street. Police Public Information Officer Travis Welsh explains.

“When the officers arrived, they found a 29-year-old female who reported that she had been with a male identified as 46-year-old Clifton Phillips,” Welsh said. “The caller initially reported seeing the male on top of the female with his hands around her throat. He also reported witnessing the male striking the female before leaving on foot. Another officer located Phillips in the area and placed him under arrest.”

According to court documents, the complaining witness also said he saw Phillips repeatedly kick and knee the victim in the torso. Officers contacted another witness who indicated he was in the Target parking lot when he heard yelling. He turned toward the yelling and observed Phillips on top of the victim.

He said the victim attempted to roll away from Phillips, but Phillips placed his knee into the back of her neck and continued to punch her. Phillips then placed both his hands around the victim’s neck and began to strangle her. The witness yelled at Phillips when he saw this, causing Phillips to stop and flee.

Officers noted that the victim’s face was swollen and that she had scratches all over her body. She also had sunglasses on, which appeared to be hiding a black eye.

Officers spoke with Phillips, who was heavily intoxicated. Phillips said that the victim had slapped him and then kicked him in the ribs after they began to argue. Phillips said he pushed the victim down and kneeled on her to prevent any further attack.

Phillips is being charged with felony strangulation and felony partner of family member assault. He has been convicted of partner or family member assault on at least two prior occasions.