South Dakota Mother Claims Tribal Police Negligent in Son’s Death

April 1, 2008

A civil lawsuit in federal court accuses tribal law enforcement of negligence in a 2002 car crash that killed a man at Pine Ridge, S.D.

Nathan Vaughn Dreamer, 36, died Feb. 25, 2002, as the result of injuries from a Jan. 7 car crash.

Norma Blacksmith, Dreamer’s mother and administrator of his estate, filed a claim accusing the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Department of Public Safety — which is run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs — of negligence in the crash.

Blacksmith filed the claim in May 2003. After the BIA denied her compensation of $900,000 in 2005, she proceeded with the suit.

Court documents said Dreamer continued driving after he noticed a police car following him with its lights flashing.

Blacksmith’s claim alleges that the patrol car struck Dreamer’s car and caused Dreamer to lose control, go through a ditch and into a dry creek bed, striking an embankment.

Court documents said authorities were pursuing Dreamer because of a report that he had brandished a knife at a home.

The government said in court documents that there was no contact between the patrol car and Dreamer’s vehicle, and that the BIA and government are not negligent because Dreamer assumed the risk in fleeing from police.

U.S. District Judge Andrew W. Bogue will rule in the case.

Source: Rapid City Journal.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.