Park Rangers in Washington State Shooting Prepare for Trial

A man was taken into custody recently after an incident that involved a confrontation with Federal Park Rangers.  The situation began when Park Rangers asked Michael Sublie, who was in his boat at the Kettle River campground in Washington State at the time, to reduce the volume of his music.  According to court documents, Sublie reacted belligerently, cursing at the Rangers and refusing to comply with their requests.

When Rangers noticed that Sublie was fidgeting with his pockets, they asked him to show them his hands, a request with which Sublie apparently failed to comply.

At some point Park Ranger Joshua Wentz made an attempt to handcuff Sublie.  In this critical moment the suspect is said to have jerked away from officer Wentz, and pushed him off the gangplank.  The sudden violent action caused the other Park Rangers on the scene, including Officer Matthew Phillipson, to attempt to more forcefully subdue Sublie, including Tasing him and using pepper spray.

Apparently, even these efforts were unsuccessful.  As officers continued in their attempts to gain control of the situation, officer Phillipson says that he heard several pops, and cries that another occupant of the boat, Casey Hartinger, had a gun.  It was at this time that officer Phillipson fired on Hartinger, who was standing in the boat near his nine year-old son.

A search of the boat did turn up firearms, but they had been locked away and could not have been the source of the popping sound Officer Phillipson heard.

Prosecutors are charging Michael Sublie with assaulting a federal agent and obstructing justice.  According to documents released regarding the case, prosecutors believe that the mistaken shooting was a result of Sublie’s failure to comply with the Park Rangers’ instructions, and hence was the result of the altercation, not a part of it.  As such, they plan to try to block any attempt to have the jurors hear about the shooting.


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