Most claims dismissed in law enforcement discrimination suit
A federal judge has dismissed most of the claims in a lawsuit over discrimination in federal law enforcement on the Crow Reservation in Montana.

The relatives of two people who died on the reservation said FBI agents and federal prosecutors failed to investigate the cases because the victims were American Indian. But Judge Richard Cebull said the relatives lack standing to bring most of their claims.

“That’s offensive. They have suffered a real injury. They are crime victims,” attorney Patricia Bangert told The Billings Gazette in response to the judge's ruling.

The only claim that remains is one against FBI agent Matt Oravec. Plaintiffs Earline and Cletus Cole say Oravec has made disparaging remarks about Indian women who are the victims of sexual assault.

They also said Oravec attempted to intimate Cletus Cole by showing him his gun. The alleged incident occurred when Earline and Cletus Cole went to the FBI office in Billings to ask about their son's death on the reservation in February 2005.

The other plaintiff in the lawsuit is Veronica Springfield, whose husband was found dead on the reservation in September 2004 after a hunting expedition.

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Judge rejects most of suit claiming anti-Indian bias (The Billings Gazette 6/24)