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Federal suit brought against Valley City, Barnes County for death of man after DUI arrest

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A Valley City police officer escorts Warren Lindvold during Lindvold's arrest July 15, 2018. The image is from squad car camera footage released Wednesday, Aug. 1. Special to The Forum2 / 2

FARGO — A federal civil rights lawsuit has been brought against Valley City and Barnes County law enforcement officials after a 72-year-old man arrested for DUI died at a Fargo hospital six days after being taken into custody.

The suit comes after the Cass County State’s Attorney's Office announced in November 2018 that no criminal charges would be filed in the death of Warren Lindvold, who died of a broken neck after he was arrested July 15 by Valley City police on suspicion of DUI.

Lindvold’s family filed a civil suit in the in the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota Thursday, May 2.

The lawsuit alleges a long list of civil rights violations by Valley City police and Barnes County jail, and says arresting officers Wade Hannig and Christopher Olson of the Valley City Police Department were aware Lindvold had ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis that limited his mobility that may have made him appear intoxicated.

Additionally, officers used excessive force and violated Lindvold’s Fourth Amendment protections against arrest without probable cause, as his blood-alcohol content was .03% — below the legal limit to drive — according to the complaint.

The complaint also alleges the officers displayed indifference to Lindvold’s serious medical needs before he was taken to Barnes County Jail. Police are said to have misrepresented the severity of Lindvold’s condition, calling it faked and saying it didn’t need to be taken seriously, the complaint alleges.

In video of Lindvold’s arrest, he can be heard telling police: “Please, I beg you. I’m in constant pain here.” At another point he said: “Let me die. Uff da.”

Before being booked into the jail, he was taken by ambulance to Mercy Hospital in Valley City and was returned to the jail after being medically cleared by hospital staff. The suit also names the ambulance service and hospital as defendants, alleging medical malpractice.

Corrections officers at Barnes County were indifferent to Lindvold’s serious medical needs, the lawsuit further states, telling him to “sleep it off” when he complained he was in the most intense pain he had experienced in his life and told jail staff his state was not the result of being intoxicated.

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