Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his sons walked free Monday after a federal judge dismissed the case involving their armed standoff with law enforcement in 2014.
The case was dismissed with prejudice, meaning the defendants can’t be tried again. Judge Gloria Navarro pointed to flagrant prosecutorial misconduct, saying prosecutors failed to turn over evidence which could have been helpful to the defense. She also said a universal sense of justice was violated.
Cliven Bundy walked out of the federal courthouse to a cheering crowd. He had been locked up for nearly two years.
“I came here as a free man, I’m gonna leave as a free man,” he said.
On Monday, federal Judge Navarro tossed out the case entirely calling the government’s conduct outrageous because of due process violations.
That’s after she declared a mistrial in December.
“I’m at peace and I’m pleased to finally see this day come,” said Ryan Bundy. “We knew that it would come. We knew that we were never guilty of these crimes which they have falsely accused us and so we’re glad to finally get a little relief.”
Ryan Bundy, his brother Ammon, his father Cliven, and Montana militia leader Ryan Payne could have faced life in prison if convicted for their roles in the armed standoff in Bunkerville in 2014.
Cliven Bundy’s cattle were illegally grazing on public land.
The Bureau of Land Management moved forward with the court ordered seizure of the cows. Bundy and his family put out a call for help.
Supporters, showed up. Some of them armed, the BLM backed down and the cattle were released. Judge Gloria Navarro said prosecutors failed to turn over information about surveillance, snipers near the Bundy ranch, and threat assessments.
Key evidence which could have helped the defense in their argument of feeling threatened by the government.
“I wanted to come out here and watch, let the media watch em take the shackles off me, but they wouldn’t allow me to do that, and so but anyway, I don’t have the shackles on today,” Cliven Bundy said.
In a statement, the U.S. Attorney said, “We respect the court’s ruling and will make a determination about the next appropriate steps.”
Cliven Bundy’s attorney says Bundy’s cattle are back grazing on the land in Clark County and and it appears he doesn’t have plans to remove them.
But the argument isn’t just about cattle, the Bundy’s say it’s about government overreach and they have many supporters who feel the same way.