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Wendy Reuer, Published July 12 2013

Richland deputies deny excessive force claims

FARGO – Responding to a federal lawsuit alleging that two Richland County sheriff’s deputies used excessive force during a traffic stop in 2011, attorneys for the county say the deputies did nothing wrong and are demanding a jury.

Christopher Miranowski, Adam Nelson and Derek Grund are suing Richland County Sheriff’s Deputies Dan Wise and Steve Gjerdevig, along with the Richland County Sheriff’s Office and Richland County, for unspecified damages to cover medical expenses, mental anguish, pain and suffering.

The lawsuit, filed last summer, claims Wise and Gjerdevig acted inappropriately and violated the men’s civil rights. The men also claim the sheriff’s office is liable for the officers’ conduct.

In court documents filed Tuesday, defense attorney Corey Quinton said he agrees with the civil complaint on one matter: Wise and Gjerdevig had probable cause to pull over the three men on Aug. 11 shortly after 1:30 a.m. near Abercrombie.

However, Quinton wrote in his motion that he otherwise denies all other claims of the suit and said there are immunities for the deputies under state and federal law.

According to the initial complaint, Wise, a deputy, and Gjerdevig, a reserve deputy, pulled the men over, then yelled at them using perverse language. The deputies 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 court records say.

Quinton argues in his motion that the damages the three men are seeking are exaggerated and some damages may have resulted from their own conduct.

He asked the court to dismiss the case entirely.

Quinton could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

A scheduling and discovery hearing is scheduled Aug. 19 in U.S. District Court.

The conference before a magistrate judge will allow both sides to discuss the evidence they have and agree to future scheduling dates.

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