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Native Americans Rally Behind Case Alleging FBI Bias

Family members say federal investigation into shooting death of relative tainted by discrimination

By Tristan Scott

HELENA — Native Americans in Montana are rallying behind a family who say a federal investigation into the shooting death of their relative by a white man 14 years ago was tainted by discrimination.

The 10-year-old civil lawsuit questioning the FBI investigation into Steven Bearcrane’s death is getting renewed attention amid increasing national awareness of unsolved cases involving missing and murdered Native Americans.

Dozens of people from across the state filled a courtroom Tuesday as the attorney for Bearcrane’s parents and daughter said the 2004 death illustrates how the FBI provides fewer law-enforcement services for Native Americans compared to the rest of the population.

Bearcrane was shot by Bobby Holcomb on a ranch on the Crow Indian Reservation. The FBI investigation concluded the shooting was self-defense, and prosecutors declined to charge Holcomb with a crime.