A battered and bruised Dave Bundy, 37-year-son of embattled rancher Cliven Bundy, was released from federal custody shortly before noon Monday after at least four Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rangers dressed in military-type uniforms attacked, beat and took him into custody Sunday afternoon near Bunkerville.
At no time was Bundy, who lives in Delta, Utah, with his wife and five children, told he was under arrest.
He told the Desert Valley Times Monday just a few hours after his release from custody, that he was attacked while videotaping and taking photographs standing alongside State Route 170 at mile marker 5; the Sheep Trough Road turnout.
Cliven and Carol Bundy and their 14 children of which Dave is one, have been embroiled in a feud with the BLM over cattle the family runs on its Bunkerville ranch. Among other things, the BLM contends the cattle are not only trespassing on federal land, the animals are harming and perhaps threatening the demise of the endangered desert tortoise.
The BLM notified the Bundys in March it is closing nearly 600,000 acres of federal land in stages in order to impound Bundy cattle and then sell the animals at auction. The action is scheduled to be completed by May 12, 2014.
Sunday, Dave Bundy, with several other family members, were attempting to get photos of trucks hauling family cattle off the Gold Butte area southwest of Mesquite when the physical altercation occurred. Although the Bundy/BLM battle has been contentious since it started in early 1990s, this is the first time anyone from either side has been physically accosted.
“There were several BLM trucks and they kind of surround us while I was videotaping,” Bundy said. At the time, there were four Bundy vehicles parked together on the road. “Three BLM trucks stopped on the road between us and Bunkerville and turned on their (blinking red and blue) lights. One of the guys in a truck began talking to us over a loudspeaker and told us to go away.
“I choose to stay and exercise my First Amendment rights,” Bundy said. “I just stood there taking photos with my iPad when they told me if I didn’t stop and leave they were going to arrest me. I told them I was standing on state property (on the gravel shoulder of State Route 170). After I repeated myself, two officers attacked me, wrestled me to the ground and began to punch and stomp on me. At least two others joined in. By the time all was said and done, there may have been more.”
Bundy’s older brother Ryan, who was driving one of four Bundy vehicles when approached by the BLM Sunday, said he saw at least 11 rangers and officers, beating his brother.
“There were beating me while I was on the ground and pushed my face into the gravel. I don’t know how bad it is yet, but I was bleeding from my face. I think one of them may have stomped on my left hand and broke something in there. They had a dog; he was right in my face, but they never turned him loose on me.”
Bundy said he was handcuffed on the ground then transported to a BLM compound some six miles south of Mesquite north of Interstate-15 in Toquop Wash.
“They kept me in the truck for 3, 3 1/2 hours just sort of harassing me, asking me all this questions. Some gal named Lisa Wilson seemed like she was in charge,” Bundy said. “They never said you’re under arrest or you’re being charged with anything.
“Finally, they transported me to the Henderson (police) detention facility,” he continued. “They read me my rights from a little card when we got to Henderson. Finally, this morning they transferred me to the Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas. They detained me in several different rooms and kept asking me questions. They wanted to find out what kind of person I am. They wanted to find out if I was violent.
“I felt horrible,” Bundy said. “Then this morning they gave me two citations, One, ‘resisting arrest and the other was refuse to disperse.’ One minute I felt like they was taking me to the gallows and the next minute they released me. The just escorted me to the front door and let me go.”
The BLM issued a statement saying the U.S. Attorney selected appropriate charges before he was released.
“He walked down to a gas station at Stewart and Las Vegas Boulevard where he offered to pay for some lady’s gas if she would let him use her cell phone to call home,” Cliven said. “She phoned my wife, or his wife or somebody, and I came down and picked him up.
“They’re exercising unlimited power,” Cliven said. “They’re using high-powered rifles. This just isn’t right. Where’s it gunna end?”
Dave said although his hands and wrists are swollen, his body’s sore and his face is scratched and swollen, he’s in ok condition. Nevertheless he has concerns about what’s next.
Follow Mike on Twitter, @MDonahueDVT