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Wendy Reuer, Published August 31 2012

Watch the stop that resulted in lawsuit claiming Richland County deputies used excessive force

FARGO – A lawsuit against the Richland County Sheriff’s Office was filed this week claiming two of its deputies used excessive force on three young men during a traffic stop last summer.

The suit is seeking unspecified damages for medical expenses, mental anguish, pain and suffering by the three men: Adam Nelson, Christopher Miranowski and Derek Grund.

The lawsuit claims Deputy Dan Wise and Deputy Steve Gjerdevig acted inappropriately and violated the men’s civil rights. The suit also claims the sheriff’s office is liable for the officers’ conduct.

According to the complaint filed in federal court on Tuesday, Wise pulled the three men over in a pickup shortly after 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 11, 2011.

Gjerdevig, a reserve deputy, was with Wise during the entire traffic stop.

Wise and Gjerdevig proceeded to yell at the three men, using perverse language. They also used excessive force to seize the men from the truck, causing mental and physical injury, the complaint said.

Charges relating to the traffic stop were dismissed, the complaint said.

Fargo attorney Craig Richie, who filed the federal complaint and represented Adam Nelson during the criminal proceeding, said Nelson was charged with speeding after other charges including eluding a police officer were dismissed.

A video recorder in Wise’s squad car captured the incident and will be submitted as evidence, the complaint said.

Richie said the deputies’ behavior on the tape is “shocking.”

“It’s about 45 minutes of him brutalizing these kids. They’re kids; they’re young kids,” Richie said.

Richie said the men have faced embarrassment, physical pain and continued nightmares since the incident.

“It’s got to be an embarrassment to the county, the sheriff’s department and every honest police officer and good police officer everywhere,” Richie said.

Richland County Sheriff Larry Leshovsky, through an office assistant speaking on his behalf, told The Forum he had no comment on the matter.

None of the defendants have responded yet in court to the allegations.


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Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530