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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Kettle River Campground

Trial delayed for boat owner in Kettle River Campground shooting

Michael Sublie will not be back in a federal courtroom until January to face charges of obstructing a federal law officer and violating National Park Service noise restrictions during an incident in September when a ranger fired and struck a partygoer on Sublie's boat.

Citing the ongoing investigation by multiple agencies into the shooting, both the government and Sublie requested a continuance for a hearing scheduled Tuesday afternoon. U.S. Magistrate Judge John T. Rodgers approved a delay of the hearing until January, with an expected trial date now scheduled for February.

Sublie pleaded not guilty to all charges shortly after the Sept. 14 confrontation, the details of which remain under wraps by the Washington State Patrol and Investigative Services Branch of the National Park Service, who are both looking into the incident. A Spokesman-Review request for investigative materials was denied via email earlier this month by the WSP because of the ongoing investigation.

Sworn statements filed in court said Sublie became verbally confrontational when two rangers attempted to board his boat investigating excess noise. The standoff turned physical, and Sublie shoved one of the rangers off the gangplank, according to court documents.

Friends and family of Sublie and Casey Hartinger, the man who was struck in the ribs by a bullet fired by a ranger, say the incident occurred following an end-of-the-summer party held by local law enforcement and emergency services personnel. A rally was held supporting Sublie and Hartinger outside the Stevens County Courthouse last month.

The Park Service and WSP continue to withhold the names of the two officers involved in the shooting incident. Supporters of Sublie and Hartinger have identified the rangers as Josh Wentz and Matt Phillipson.

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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