Class Action Suit Moves Forward Against Ronan Police Department

Suit alleges Ronan police department is using uncertified officers

By Justin Franz

A member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes is suing the City of Ronan for allegedly employing uncertified and unqualified police officers.

Anthony Chaney filed the lawsuit in October 2015 and on July 1, District Court Judge Jim Manley granted the plaintiff’s request for class certification, meaning that anyone who had been subjected to detention, search or seizure by ineligible or unqualified Ronan police officers could join the suit.

According to court documents, the tribes entered into an agreement with local law enforcement agencies back in 2007 allowing the departments to police tribal members so long as they used certified officers.

In Chaney’s lawsuit, he alleges that an uncertified officer unlawfully arrested him in July 2013. According to court documents, Chaney was at a bar in Ronan with his brother, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, when his sibling started to have a PTSD-episode. To help him through the incident, Chaney held down his brother in a grassy area in an attempt to calm him down, something he had been trained to do. Chaney held his brother down for more than an hour when multiple Ronan police officers arrived. Despite being told that he was trying to help his brother, the officers placed both men in handcuffs. Neither man was ever charged with a crime.

Anyone who believes they may have been subjected to detention, search or seizure by ineligible or unqualified Ronan police officers are encouraged to contact Ann Sherwood or Justin Kalmbach at the Tribal Defenders Office at (406) 675-2700 ext. 1125.

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