Commentary

On November 20, 2017, Western Shoshone Department of Public Safety (WSDPS) Police Chief R. Thunehorst announced criminal charges against Te-Moak Tribal Council Member Felix Ike. This announcement is shocking as there are severe due process, sovereign immunity, police brutality, civil liability, police certification/training, and internal tribal political concerns.

Council Member Ike is a 72-year-old elder, 100 percent Disabled Vietnam veteran (two combat tours), and Purple Heart recipient. At the time of his unlawful arrest on November 15, 2017, he was acting in his official capacity as a Te-Moak Tribal Council member, as he was just trying to access the administration building to conduct tribal business. A video of the arrest is available on Facebook, which already has over 70,000 views.

Duly elected Tribal Council Chairperson Lydia Johnson stated “the allegations against Council Member Ike are not legally justified.” Mr. Ike has not been served with criminal charges from the Tribal Prosecutor and there has never been an arrest warrant for Council Member Ike. There is a complete lack of due process.”

The most disturbing issue in this whole process is the fact that the WSDPS Police officers used a civil court order to justify Council Member Ike’s arrest. “I have never been served with a copy of the civil court order or lawsuit. I am not a named party to the civil lawsuit. I don’t know why the police unilaterally extended the court order to me. As all can see on the video, the police were aggressive and arrested me without doing a proper investigation.” Stated Council Member Ike. Furthermore, Judge O.R. McGee recused himself from the civil case because of a conflict of interest but continues to make decisions in violation of his ethical and legal responsibilities to uphold the law. A copy of this recusal will be made available on Facebook.

On behalf of the Te-Moak Tribe, Chairperson Lydia Johnson states, “based upon all these legal and liability issues, it makes no sense for the Police Chief to announce charges. He should have followed the chain of command and obtained the permission from the Tribal Council to release any statement. This is a clear violation of protocol and an attempt to smear the reputation of one of our leaders and poison any jury pool.”

Chairperson Lydia Johnson further states ”I officially call upon the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Department of Justice, the Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to commence an immediate investigation of the Court of Indian Offenses for the Te-Moak Western Shoshone and the Te-Moak Tribal Police. There are severe concerns regarding the legal authorizations, certifications, standards and competency.”

The Te-Moak Chairperson officially stands behind Council Member Ike and will fully support him against the attacks by the Court and by the Tribal Police. Council member Ike will not stand by and permit the rights of individual tribal members to be violated, when acting within the scope of his responsibilities. Sovereign immunity is attached to Council Member Ike and the Tribe will enforce this right.

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