Stephen Stubbs, the gadfly attorney who filed a biker civil rights lawsuit in Nevada last June, filed another civil rights lawsuit in Flagstaff, Arizona Friday afternoon.
The suit was filed on behalf of the Sons of Hell Motorcycle Club, twelve members of the club and five women including the wives of four members. Defendants to the complaint include the Arizona Department of Public Safety; the Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission commonly called “GIITEM;” the Coconino County Sheriff’s Department; and various officials of the three law enforcement agencies including Robert Halliday, Brad Elliot, Brian Barnes and Nate Gould of the ADPS; Dan Wells, Frank Stewart, Michael Wischman and Douglas Wheeler of GIITEM; Bill Pribil, Marl Pierz, William Rackley, Jason Lurkins, Gerrit Boeck, Michael Curtis, Ethan Miltowski, Robert Gambee, Jason Bond and James Coffee of the Coconino County Sheriff’s Department; and numerous John and Jane Does and Roes.
Stubbs Takes Case
The suit is the result of an incident at the Too Broke for Sturgis Motorcycle Rally at the Mormon Lake Lodge Campground near Flagstaff on July 22, 2011. A previous lawsuit related to that night was filed by another attorney last year. The suit was dismissed after that attorney missed multiple court appearances. The two-year statute of limitations to sue would have expired today.
“With the statute of limitations looming, the Sons of Hell contacted me and asked me to jump in,” Stubbs said. “I got an attorney to assist me in Arizona, who will file the lawsuit and stay on as co-counsel. I will be applying for pro hac vice status in Arizona and expect to fight this thing there.” Pro hac vice is lawyer’s Latin for “this particular occasion.” It is the formal term used when an out of state lawyer is granted the same standing as a local attorney.
Stubbs has carved out a niche with bikers’ rights cases in the last two years and he has hardly endeared himself to biker cops. He was sued by Boulder City, Nevada Police Chief Thomas Finn last year. He was also the target last year of an apparent ATF sting.
Stubbs said, “The facts of this case are beyond troubling – shockingly horrid.”
About 11 p.m. two years ago, a man named Christian Tejeda, who has no connection to the Sons of Hell and was camped on the other side of the campground, shot two men and two women after getting into an argument with his wife Desiree Tejada abou their unexpected dinner guests. Tejada shot his wife and the two guests, Edgar and Trina Atzin. Both the Atzins were killed. Christian Tejeda then shot and killed himself. Desiree Tejada survived.
The Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Public Safety, GIITEM and the Flagstaff Police Department all responded to the campground.
In the suit Stubbs alleges:
“At around 1:00 a.m. on July 23, 2011, approximately two hours after the incident, and despite the abundance of evidence that the incident was a murder-suicide perpetrated by Christian Tejeda, Defendants, as officers and deputies of ADPS, GIITEM and CCSD, under color of their authority as police officers, illegally and wrongfully invaded Plaintiffs’ residences (their tents), and forcibly removed Plaintiffs from their residences with assault rifles and other firearms.”
Throughout the suit, Stubbs characterizes the police actions as an “invasion.”
“During the invasion, Plaintiffs were handcuffed, forced to lay on the cold ground, detained and imprisoned for longer than three hours (some partially or mostly naked), photographed, forced to answer questions in interrogation, forced to reveal all of their tattoos for further photography, mocked, otherwise humiliated, yelled at, and threatened with violence by Defendants, under color of their authority as police officers. During the invasion, and even after Defendants determined that Plaintiffs did not have weapons and were not a physical threat of any kind, Plaintiffs were still forced to lay on the cold ground, were denied repeated requests to clothe themselves and use the restroom by Defendants, under color of their authority as police officers. During the invasion, Defendants obtained identifying information for a law enforcement databases and law enforcement are currently using such information.
“The gathering of information, as described in Paragraph 32 above, is encouraged in a de facto policy of GIITEM, ADPS, and other cooperating law enforcement agencies (including CCSD), by which officers unlawfully detain members of motorcycle clubs for the purpose of gathering information for law enforcement databases. All with complete indifference to how these policies affect the lives of motorcycle club members and their families.”
“Plaintiffs were threatened, and with assault rifles and other firearms pointed at Plaintiffs, to answer questions under interrogation.”
Extra-Judicial Punishment For Gangs
The suit also alleges that the “Defendants wrongly identified the Sons of Hell Motorcycle Club as a ‘gang’ solely based on associations and friendships that members of the Sons of Hell Motorcycle Club have with the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, and not based on any facts that would determine that the Sons of Hell Motorcycle Club, or its members, meets the legal definition of a gang.”
The suit complains that GIITEM and its fellow travelers “infringed on Plaintiff’s right against unwarranted searches and seizures guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment;” “infringed on Plaintiffs’ right against self-incrimination, guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment;” “infringed on Plaintiffs’ right not to be deprived of liberty without due process of law as guaranteed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments;” “infringed on Plaintiffs’ right to equal protection of the laws as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment;” “infringed on Plaintiffs’ right to be free from use of excessive force by law enforcement officers as guaranteed by the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments;” and “infringed on Plaintiff’s right to be free from pre-conviction punishment as guaranteed by the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”
The suit alleges that the police actions that night, “were done with actual malice toward Plaintiffs and with willful and wanton indifference to and deliberate disregard for their constitutional rights. Plaintiffs are thus entitled to exemplary damages against the individual officers in their individual capacities.”
Naming Names And Numbers
The suit singles out three defendants who have been leaders in Arizona’s ongoing war against the motorcycle menace. The document states:
“Defendant Robert Halliday has the duty and responsibility to implement and enforce the guidelines, procedures, and regulations of the ADPS and to train and supervise the conduct of its employees to ensure they are properly trained.”
“Defendant Dan Wells is the final policy maker, directly liable for the acts of GIITEM Officers for failing to enforce the rights provided under the United States Constitution, the laws of the State of Arizona, and the regulations of the GIITEM pertaining to an individual’s freedom of association and assembly.”
“Defendant Bill Pribil is the final policy maker, directly liable for the acts of CCSD Officers for failing to enforce the rights provided under the United States Constitution, the laws of the State of Arizona, and the regulations of the CCSD pertaining to an individual’s freedom of association and assembly.”
The plaintiffs demand “equitable remedies, including but not limited to the declassification of the Sons of Hell Motorcycle Club as a ‘gang,’ and enjoining Arizona Law Enforcement from using unconstitutional tactics in the future.” It also seeks “damages in a sum in excess of $75,000…” “exemplary damages in a sum in excess of $75,000” and “reasonable attorney’s fees.”
Sons of Hell et al. versus Arizona Department of Public Safety et al. is one of three major lawsuits filed by motorcycle club members who have been bullied or worse by police as part of an unofficial campaign of bullying. The others are James Coles et al. v. Nicholas Carlini et al., filed by current members of the Pagans against the New Jersey State Police and the Southern Nevada COC suit against the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and others.
All three suits protest a national police strategy to enforce a de facto writ of attainder against motorcycle club membership or even association. Chuck Schoville, the former Tempe patrolman, GIITEM Training Director and the President of the International Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigator’s Association told the National Geographic Channel why cops bully and harass members of motorcycle clubs in a show about Operation Black Biscuit, the largely unsuccessful investigation of the Hells Angels in Arizona.
“Maybe the outcome (of Black Biscuit) wasn’t the desired outcome.” Schoville proclaimed to the world. “But there’s kinda two outcomes. There’s the outcome you read about in the newspaper and that is the prison sentences and some of the dismissals. But, there was also the outcome that you see on the streets. We got Hells Angels that all of a sudden decide, ‘You know that’s not the lifestyle for me and they’re leavin’ the club. It feels like a game of cat and mouse.”
Enjoy more of the cop who teaches GIITEM what to do and how to do it below.