Today, a federal jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota sitting in Bismarck, N.D., convicted Lindrith Tsoodle, 58, of one felony count and one misdemeanor count of using excessive force on persons in his custody in November and December of 2010. Tsoodle was also convicted of making false statements to a federal law enforcement officer, and was acquitted of tampering with a witness.
Tsoodle, a former police officer with the Three Affiliated Tribes Police Department in New Town, N.D., on the Fort Berthold Reservation, was found guilty of violating the rights of two people in his custody by using excessive force. Specifically, he was convicted of twisting the neck of a handcuffed suspect, throwing him to the ground and kneeing him in the abdomen. He was also convicted of, on a separate occasion, excessively tightening the handcuffs of an arrestee, slamming him against the wall, using pepper spray on the arrestee and striking him with his hands and a baton. Both assaults occurred while the suspects were restrained and were not posing a physical threat to the defendant.
Additionally, Tsoodle was found guilty of making various false statements to a U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs Special Agent, who interviewed the defendant following one of the assaults.
“Our constitutional system of government requires police officers to abide by the laws they enforce, and to protect the constitutional rights of all persons in their custody,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels of the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice and the Civil Rights Division will vigorously prosecute law enforcement officers who use excessive force.”
Tsoodle faces a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years for the federal excessive force count, a statutory maximum sentence of one year for the misdemeanor and faces a statutory maximum penalty of five years for the false statements count.
This case was investigated by the Minot Resident Agency of the Minneapolis Division of the FBI and was prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Gerard Hogan and Trial Attorney Nicholas Durham of the Civil Rights Division.