Judge sides with law enforcement in legal action to protest pipeline

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BISMARCK, ND (AP) – A federal judge sided with local law enforcement in a case brought by protesters from the Dakota Access Pipeline alleging excessive use of force by police at a protest site in North Dakota in 2016.

The Bismarck Tribune reported that temperatures fell below freezing on the night of November 20 as police and protesters clashed on a highway just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Officers sprayed protesters with water during the incident.

Lawyers for the protesters who filed a complaint said police fired rubber bullets and detonated ammunition “indiscriminately in the crowd” and also used tear gas. Some of the protesters were injured that night.

Lawyers for law enforcement, including Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, said the officers were outnumbered and worried for their lives and safety. They demanded that the protesters’ legal claims be dismissed.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Traynor issued the order granting their claim on Wednesday.

Morton County Assistant State Attorney Gabrielle Goter said in a statement she was happy with the decision.

Counsel for the plaintiffs did not immediately comment on the case. The principal plaintiff is Vanessa Dundon, a member of the Navajo Nation whose eye was injured the night of the incident.

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