By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
A Washington state Indian tribe has sued the city of Tupelo and Marshall County, among others, claiming their law enforcement officials illegally invaded tribal lands during an FBI-led raid earlier this year.
The Feb. 16 search’s target was property belonging to King Mountain Tobacco, under federal investigation in a years-long, multi-state blackmarket cigarette conspiracy.
The Confederated Tribes and Bands of Yakama Nation insist the officials barged onto the tribe’s land without prior notice and illegally invaded their peace.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Washington, seeks a court order compelling the defendants to notify the Yakama Nation of any entry onto reservation lands. It asks the court to find that Tupelo, Marshall County and five other local entities, who sent police officers to participate in the raid, violated the Yakamas’ treaty with the United States and to prohibit any more violations.
The nation also wants a jury trial and court costs and attorney’s fees.
News of the lawsuit came Friday in a city of Tupelo memo obtained by the Daily Journal. In it, the city’s attorney, John Hill, asked City Clerk Glenda Muse to put on the City Council’s July 19 agenda a proposal to hire a Washington State law firm to represent Tupelo.
Friday, the U.S. District Court’s docket lists attorneys Michael John Kapaun and William M. Symmes of Spokane, Wash., as representing Tupelo. Hill says they’ve been “tentatively retained.”
In Hill’s memo, he explains that a Tupelo police officer has been assisting federal authorities with the cigarette investigation and participated “in an action” on the Yakama reservation.
Although the lawsuit doesn’t ask for monetary damages, Hill says that’s possible later on.