LAS VEGAS (AP) — A rancher’s son now campaigning as an independent for Nevada governor filed a lawsuit Wednesday against current and former U.S. government officials, alleging malicious prosecution after a 2014 armed standoff with…
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A rancher’s son now campaigning as an independent for Nevada governor filed a lawsuit Wednesday against current and former U.S. government officials, alleging malicious prosecution after a 2014 armed standoff with federal land agents.
Ryan Bundy and his father, Cliven Bundy, said outside the U.S. courthouse in Las Vegas that prosecutors tried to wrongfully convict them for peacefully stopping a roundup of Bundy cattle by U.S. authorities from federal land near the family ranch in Bunkerville.
“The federal government unlawfully retaliated against my family for defending our rights by stacking criminal charges against us” and others, Ryan Bundy said of the five Bundy family members and 14 supporters who faced charges that could have brought decades in federal prison.
Charges were dismissed in January against most defendants by a federal judge in Las Vegas who found intentional and willful prosecutorial misconduct.
Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro said the government failed to disclose to defense lawyers evidence that Bureau of Land Management agents and the FBI had provoked the Bundy family into calling supporters to their defense by acts including “insertion and positioning of snipers and cameras surveilling the Bundy home.”
Ryan Bundy, who represented himself at trial, accused government officials of “failure to prosecute their vengeful and frivolous charges honorably.”
Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle declined to comment on the lawsuit filed by conservative activist attorney Larry Klayman in U.S. District Court in Washington.
Ryan Bundy is the named plaintiff seeking unspecified monetary damages greater than $75,000. Klayman said he’ll seek millions of dollars.
Named defendants are U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, his predecessors Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder, former Bureau of Land Management chief Neil Kornze and former FBI Director James Comey.
The criminal case against the Bundys stemmed from a standoff in April 2014 involving hundreds of protesters and armed Bundy family supporters facing off against federal land management agents and contract cowboys about 80 miles (129 kilometers) northeast of Las Vegas.
The Bureau of Land Management had court orders to round up Bundy cattle. Gunfire was averted when outnumbered government agents gave up and allowed the release of several hundred head of corralled cattle back to the Bundys.
Cliven Bundy refused for decades to pay government grazing fees for his cows on federal land in what is now Gold Butte National Monument. He maintains the federal government has no authority over state lands. He said Wednesday that his cows are still grazing on the disputed land.
Ryan Bundy said he hoped the filing of the lawsuit would draw the attention of voters ahead of Tuesday’s election.
“People will see that I am going to do something,” he said. “I’m going to be active. I’m not just going to stand by as some of my competitors in the campaign have done.”
Bundy has stumped for votes around the state but has raised and spent just a fraction of the millions of dollars collected by state Attorney General Adam Laxalt, the Republican candidate, and Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, the Democrat.
Most of the 19 Bundy case defendants from 11 states spent nearly two years in federal custody awaiting trial on charges that included conspiracy, threatening and assaulting federal officers, firearm offenses, obstruction and extortion.
Five pleaded guilty before the trial, several were acquitted of all counts and some were convicted of lesser charges and sentenced to time already spent in custody. Two are in prison are appealing for release.