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Eye On Boise

Brother Speed settles suit against U.S. government over Nampa raid, gets payment

Brother Speed Motorcycle Club's logo features a grinning skull
Brother Speed Motorcycle Club's logo features a grinning skull

Ten members of the Brother Speed Motorcycle Club, along with the club itself, will be splitting a $16,500 payment from the United States government, to settle their lawsuit over a 2013 raid on their Nampa clubhouse that yielded no charges.

The club and its members sued numerous federal agents and the United States, saying their civil rights were violated when federal agents serving a search warrant broke down the door, set off flash-bang grenades, and sent dozens of heavily armed SWAT team members into the small home. The club members were detained for up to three hours while agents forcibly removed their personal property, including their clothing, and confiscated club memorabilia, according to the club’s attorney, Craig Durham.

“These were regular guys minding their own business that night,” Durham said. “They were not a threat, and there was no call for the use of terrifying, military-style tactics to serve a simple search warrant.”

The government admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to the settlement, under which the club will receive $4,000, and the individual members will receive payments ranging from $500 to $2,500.

“This was never about money,” said chapter president Daniel Bugli. “It was about standing up for our rights as citizens and members of this community. Law enforcement officers shouldn’t be able to run roughshod over people’s rights based on speculation and assumptions.”

U.S. Attorney for Idaho Wendy Olson said in a statement that the settlement amount was “a small fraction of the more than $6 million amount that plaintiffs sought in their lawsuit.” She noted that the U.S. government didn’t admit any fault. “Often times in defending the United States in civil litigation, the Department of Justice will seek to resolve the litigation for nominal amounts rather than continue to spend litigative resources,” Olson said. “That process occurred here.”

Brother Speed was founded in Boise in 1969 by a group of men with a common passion for riding American-made motorcycles, Durham and Bugli said in a news release; it now has several chapters. The members of the Nampa/Caldwell chapter members are primarily tradesmen, they said, including a pipe fitter, a tile setter, an electrician, and a plumber, among others. Four are retired. 

In 2010, when the Idaho state budget was short, Brother Speed members collaborated with the state Department of Parks and Recreation to help maintain and keep open a state park in the Magic Valley.

At the time, the Associated Press reported that nine bikers in black leather jackets adorned with the group’s logo, a grinning skull, planted 75 maple trees in a corner of Thousand Springs state park, working alongside college students, a Mormon group and a square dancing club.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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