Lindrith Tsoodle, 58, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland to serve 15 months in prison for two incidents in which he used excessive force against an arrestee and for lying to a federal agent. Tsoodle was further ordered to serve two years of supervised release following completion of his prison term. On April 1, 2014, a federal jury convicted Tsoodle on these three charges.
Tsoodle was a police officer with the Three Affiliated Tribes Police Department in New Town, North Dakota, on the Fort Berthold Reservation. He was convicted of twisting the neck of a handcuffed suspect, throwing him to the ground and dropping a knee on him. He was also convicted of, on a separate occasion, excessively tightening the handcuffs of an arrestee, slamming him against the wall, using pepper spray on the arrestee and striking him with his hands and a baton. Both of these actions occurred while the suspects were restrained. Tsoodle was also convicted of telling various false statements to a U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs Special Agent, who interviewed the defendant regarding one of the assaults.
“Our system of government requires police officers to abide by the laws they enforce and to protect the constitutional rights of all persons in their custody,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels of the Civil Rights Division. “This officer used his official position to commit civil rights abuses and then lied about his actions. The Department of Justice will continue to prosecute vigorously law enforcement officers who use their power to violate federal law.”
“With our colleagues at the Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to protecting the civil rights of the citizens on the reservations in North Dakota,” said U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon for the District of North Dakota. “This prosecution shows that our commitment to public safety on the reservations is matched by our commitment to a vigorous enforcement of civil rights of all people.”
This case was investigated by the Minot Resident Agency of the Minneapolis Division of the FBI and was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Gerald Hogan and Nicholas Durham of the Civil Rights Division.