Bismarck, ND — In late 2016, early 2017, the world watched in both horror and admiration as hundreds of protesters risked the elements and police brutality to stand against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) over sacred Native American lands. Over the course of several months, TFTP reported on completely unbelievable acts of excessive and outright unlawful force such as cops opening fire on prayer circles, shooting peaceful people in their backs with rubber bullets. Countless people were injured from the unprecedented acts of police brutality.
One of those victims, whose attack was captured on video, was activist Eric Poemoceah, a Native American who traveled from Oklahoma to protest the DAPL construction. In a lawsuit filed in North Dakota U.S. District Court this week, Poemoceah claims police forced him to walk about 200 feet after he requested an ambulance and mocked him when he complained of his injuries.
As WDAY reports:
Poemoceah, a member of the Comanche Nation in Oklahoma, was injured at the tail end of the months-long protests aimed at preventing construction of a portion of the Dakota Access Pipeline that would carry oil across the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
The suit, brought by the Civil Liberties Defense Center in Eugene, Ore., alleges the officers’ indifference to Poemoceah’s injuries was in part retaliation for his involvement in the pipeline protests. It also claims officers lacked appropriate training in handling large-scale demonstrations.
As the video shows, Poemoceah was on the scene and recording the eviction of the protesters when he was attacked by cops. According to the lawsuit, Poemoceah was trying to negotiate a peaceful resolution to allowing the remaining protesters to leave. However, it appeared that the cops were not interested in a peaceful resolution.
As he stood in front of an entire platoon of militarized police in riot gear, the cops charged at him for no reason.
Fearing for his safety, Poemoceah turned and ran as the platoon rushed him. He was not fast enough, however, and was tackled by several troopers. The attack was captured on both Poemoceah’s camera as well as a camera from Free Voice Film.
As Poemoceah is tackled, he screams out in agony, “I’m hurt, you broke my hip! My hip!”
The riot police officers then demand Poemoceah “get up.” However, he could not.
After putting him in handcuffs, police then tell him to “cut his stupid sh*t out,” and “quit disrespecting us,” before they stand him up and make him walk over 200 feet with a broken pelvis to be loaded into a police van.
After his arrest, Poemoceah was transported to a local hospital to be treated for his injuries before being brought to jail on a misdemeanor charge of government obstruction. According to the lawsuit, his hip was confirmed to be broken from the incident.
Weeks after his assault and arrest, Poemoceah’s charge was dropped, according to the lawsuit, because police never filed written statements about essential facts outlining the offenses.
In his lawsuit, Poemoceah is seeking in excess of $75,000 in damages for lasting extreme pain in his left hip, lower back and leg that resulted from the incident, as well as mental distress.
According to WDAY:
The complaint names Morton County, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, and Bismarck police officer Benjamin Swenson, the officer who tackled Poemoceah, as defendants. The Morton County Sheriff’s Office, which had deputized Swenson during the protests, said it is reviewing the lawsuit and did not immediately offer comment Tuesday, April 21.
Then-Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney is also named in the complaint for his role in Poemoceah’s arrest and in managing law enforcement’s response to the protests. Two unnamed Fargo police officers and a sheriff’s deputy from an unnamed agency are also listed as John Doe defendants. Laney could not immediately be reached Tuesday.
Below are the two videos from the incident. The first one is from Poemoceah’s camera and the second one is from Cairns Film.