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SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has dismissed most of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the widow of a Blanding doctor who killed himself after being arrested in an American Indian artifacts trafficking sting.
But U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby declined to toss out an excessive force claim stemming from the use of 80 to 140 federal agents, some heavily armed, to raid James D. Redd's home in June 2009.
Shelby found that given the nonviolent nature of the alleged crime, lack of a threat to officers' safety and absence of any resistance to arrest, sending that many agents to collect 112 boxes of evidence violated Redd's Fourth Amendment rights.
Jeanne H. Redd filed the lawsuit against agents with the Bureau of Land Management and the FBI, claiming they pushed her husband's suicide. James Redd asphyxiated himself by connecting a hose to the exhaust pipe of his car the day after the raid.
Federal prosecutors had charged James Redd with one felony count of theft of tribal property, specifically an effigy bird pendant. He found the quarter-inch-long relic while on a family walk, according to the lawsuit.
Shelby dismissed claims that BLM agent Daniel Love knowingly provided false information for a warrant and illegally searched the Redds' home. He also dismissed claims that Love and BLM agent Dan Barnes violated James Redd's due process and equal protection rights.
Redd was among 24 people federal agents arrested after a two-year undercover operation in the Four Corners area of southern Utah.