LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A federal lawsuit filed nearly 10 years after the armed standoff involving the Bundy family and BLM officers accuses the U.S. government of an organized plot to steal water rights, kill cattle and assault several family members.
The standoff brought national news coverage as rancher Cliven Bundy and his sons faced down the Bureau of Land Management when they confiscated cattle in a dispute over fees for grazing permits.
The lawsuit names son Ryan Bundy, his wife and children and Ryan Payne as plaintiffs. Ryan Bundy ran for governor in Nevada in 2018 but lost. Payne, a family friend, was at the standoff and was known as the “architect” of the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016. Ryan Bundy led that takeover.
Cliven Bundy, now 77, is not part of the lawsuit.
The lawsuit is filled with allegations that the BLM harassed the Bundys and threatened their lives. The government allegedly fabricated evidence and suppressed evidence that favored the Bundys’ case.
The federal government spent “hundreds of millions of dollars” in a multi-state effort to falsely indict Bundy of fabricated crimes dating back to 2014, the lawsuit claims. Ryan Bundy and his family suffered irreparable damage when he was imprisoned in a federally contracted prison in Pahrump, according to the lawsuit.
In the end, a judge threw the case out of court for prosecutorial misconduct, and courts have blocked an attempt to retry the case.
The FBI, Department of Justice, Department of Interior and the BLM are among the defendants in the case, and seven assistant U.S. attorneys are named.
The Bundy family is portrayed as the latest generation in a line of pioneer settlers who came to the Gold Butte area in 1877. The government is portrayed as a gang of thugs, led by BLM agent Daniel P. Love, who marked them for death and lured them into the armed standoff on March 27, 2014. A judge had previously ordered Cliven Bundy to refrain from trespassing on federal land near his ranch.
“This will be the next Waco or Ruby Ridge. We will kill you,” another BLM special agent allegedly told Ryan Bundy several days before the standoff.
A whistleblower case that came out of the Bundy trial is also outlined in the lawsuit. The account indicates that BLM lead investigator Larry Wooten was taken off the case after reporting BLM misconduct. Another BLM special agent contradicted Wooten’s claims. A few weeks after Wooten’s claim that he was removed from the Bundy case, Judge Gloria Navarro declared a mistrial, and on Jan. 8, 2018, all charges were dismissed with prejudice.
The lawsuit alleges false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress and loss of consortium.
It seeks monetary damages, attorneys’ fees and court costs, interest, lost past and future wages and compensatory damages for “the reputational harm of being branded ‘domestic terrorists.’ “