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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sirens & Gavels

Cost of park ranger shooting trial unknown

The U.S. Attorney's Office will not say how much was spent to try the man whose confrontation with National Park Service rangers ended in an officer-involved shooting in September 2013.

Michael Sublie was charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer after allegedly shoving a park ranger during a noise complaint call at the Kettle River Campground. A three-day trial on the charged ended in a hung jury, and Sublie eventually agreed to pay a $100 fine for excessive noise in July. His case was dismissed in December after he completed the terms of a court-ordered agreement. 

The Spokesman Review filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the amount spent trying the case. The Justice Department responded to that request this week, providing a list of transcript expenses totaling $2,292.07. However, that amount does not include the salaries of staff members, the U.S. assistant attorney who handled the case nor payment to the prosecution's expert witness, Special Agent Steven Demske of the National Park Service.

"... there is no record or system of records that contains this information.  We have no responsive records that provides a total cost amount," reads the response from the Justice Department. 

The National Park Service never identified the two rangers involved in the dispute, which was sparked by music played on Sublie's houseboat during an end-of-the-summer party. The shot struck Casey Hartinger, a guest at the party, in the side. The injury required hospitalization, but he recovered. The ranger who was allegedly shoved was identified in court documents as Joshua Wentz, and the ranger who fired was identified as Matthew Phillipson. 

The case sparked an outcry in Stevens County among residents who alleged federal law enforcement officers were overstepping their authority. 

Kip Hill
Kip Hill joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the City Desk, covering the marijuana industry, local politics and breaking news. He previously hosted the newspaper's podcast.

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