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Appeals Court: Use of Taser on rancher accused of threatening officers justified

GRAND FORKS — A federal court has upheld the dismissal of a civil complaint against a former Nelson County Sheriff's deputy after a rancher who was arrested claimed the officer used excessive force while tasing him.

The U.S. Court of Appeals announce in a Friday ruling that a federal judge was right in dismissing Rodney Brossart's lawsuit against former Deputy Eric Braathen, who arrested Brossart in 2011 over a dispute about stray cattle wandering onto the Lakota, N.D., ranchers land. Brossart accused Braathen of using excessive force by tasing the rancher multiple times, calling it "torture."

Brossart at one point during the incident told law enforcement, "If you step foot on my property, you are going to not be walking away," according to court documents.

Brossart was found guilty of terrorizing after charges said he threatened Braathen and others during the incident, but the North Dakota Supreme Court overturned that ruling.

Brossart sought compensation for pain suffered, medical expense and other damages, but Chief District Judge Ralph Erickson ruled last year Brossart's conduct justified the use of the Taser.

The appeals court agreed, in part saying Brossart made threats of violence, did not comply with officer orders and resisted arrest.

"Braathen's use of a taser under the circumstances was a reasonable use of significant non-lethal force," the appeals court ruling stated.