Legal team for #NoDAPL supporters file lawsuit against Morton county, police

Water protectors file suit against North Dakota police for use of “excessive force.”

Dennis Ward
APTN National News
The legal team for those engaged in the resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline has filed a suit for excessive force.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court is against Morton County, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirschmeier and other law enforcement agencies.

The Water Protector Legal Collective has filed the class action suit on behalf of persons who were injured on Nov. 20 and early morning of Nov. 21.

See related stories here: Standing Rock 

The suit seeks an immediate injunction preventing the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement from using “impact munitions such as rubber bullets and lead-filled beanbags, water cannons, hoses, explosive teargas grenades and other chemical agents against protesters.”

More than 200 people were injured during the incident on the Backwater bridge near the Oceti Sakowin camp.

Among those injured was Sophia Wilansky, a 21-year old from New York City.

Court documents say Wilansky’s arm “was nearly torn off by an explosive grenade and is currently undergoing multiple surgeries and facing permanent disability.” According to the suit “another woman who was shot in the eye causing serious eye injury with ongoing severe pain and possible blindness in that eye.”

According to the documents, “another woman who was shot in the eye causing serious eye injury with ongoing severe pain and possible blindness in that eye.”

Morton County Sheriff’s Department has defended their actions that night. An earlier statement from the North Dakota Highway Patrol said the injuries sustained by Wilansky “are inconsistent with any resources utilized by law enforcement and are not a direct result of any tools or weapons used by law enforcement.”

Water Protector Legal Collective lawyer Rachel Lederman said in a release that “the Morton County Sheriff’s Department illegal use of force against the Water Protectors has been escalating. It is only a matter of luck that no one has been killed. This must stop.”

[email protected]


Host, Producer / Winnipeg

Dennis is Metis from southern Manitoba. After spending a decade working in TV in Alberta and Ontario, Dennis returned to Manitoba to join APTN’s Winnipeg bureau as reporter/correspondent in September 2014. In 2016, he won a Canadian Association of Journalists award for his story A Soldier Scorned for APTN Investigates. In 2017, he became a host/producer for APTN National News and Face to Face. In 2020, Dennis and co host Melissa Ridgen were nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for Best News Anchor, National.