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Suit tossed over death of North Dakota man turned informant

WAHPETON, N.D. (AP) — A judge has dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of a North Dakota college student who say their son was killed after being pressured into becoming an informant for drug investigators.

The body of 20-year-old Andrew Sadek was recovered from the Red River in June 2014. Sadek was wearing a backpack filled with rocks and had a gunshot wound to his head, according to investigators. Although an autopsy attributed his death to the gunshot, it classified the death as “undetermined” and didn’t conclude whether he shot himself or whether someone else shot him.

John and Tammy Sadek sued the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, one of its deputies and the county, alleging that their son was killed because he was coerced into becoming a drug informant.

Sadek was a second-year electrical technician student at North Dakota State College of Science when he got caught selling $80 worth of marijuana on campus. He was facing charges that carried a maximum sentence of 41 years in prison when he agreed to become a confidential informant for the Southeast Multi-County Agency Drug Task Force in exchange for leniency.

The defendants in the lawsuit asked for it to be dismissed, saying they are immune from being sued and did nothing wrong.

Judge Jay Schmitz dismissed the lawsuit this week, saying there was no evidence that the sheriff’s deputy directly caused Sadek’s death or that the county acted negligently in assessing the dangers of being an informant.

Sadek’s death led the state Legislature to enact new protections for confidential drug informants in 2017. Andrew’s Law clarifies the rights of people offered the role of a confidential drug informant, including their right to an attorney. It also requires a written agreement.

Tammy Sadek referred comment to their attorney, Tim O’Keeffe, who did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

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