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Sirens & Gavels

U.S. attorney asks for more time to investigate Kettle River campground incident

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Spokane petitioned the U.S. District Court last week to provide more time to investigate the events that led to a National Park ranger shooting a Kettle Falls man on a houseboat last month.

Michael Sublie, the owner of a houseboat currently moored on private property along the Kettle River branch of the Columbia, faces federal charges after Park Service rangers approached him for excessive noise at a remote beach Sept. 14. According to investigators, Sublie was verbally and physically defiant when rangers attempted to board the vessel and turn down the music.

Several demonstrators who turned out for a rally in support of Sublie and Casey Hartinger, the man shot by park rangers, said the incident followed an annual gathering attended by area law enforcement and hospital staff at the beach, and the shooting is just another in a list of grievances they share against the Park Service's law enforcement efforts.

In documents filed Sept. 26, Assistant U.S. District Attorney Tyler Tornabene said his office needed more time to collect investigative reports from various agencies involved in the case. The Washington State Patrol and Investigative Branch of the Park Service are looking into the circumstances leading to the shooting and examining whether there was any professional misconduct on the part of the rangers.

An initial order required the Attorney's Office to provide all discovery to defense counsel within 14 business days of the arrest. Tornabene wrote that timetable would be insufficient to complete the investigation.

“The United States is mindful of its discovery obligations and intends to fully and timely comply with those obligations,” Tornabene wrote.

Sublie is due in court for a pretrial status hearing later this month. Hartinger has not yet been charged in connection with the incident.


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