Lawsuit Claims Cops Held Family At Gunpoint Outside Yellowstone In Mistaken Identity
A lawsuit filed in the Wyoming US District Court claims that a family was pulled over and held at gunpoint outside of Yellowstone National Park in a case of mistaken identity.
According to the lawsuit, filed this week, Independence, Missouri residents Brett and Genalyn Hemry along with their seven-year-old daughter were traveling east from Yellowstone toward Cody when Brett Hemry noticed Yellowstone Park Rangers were following him on July 20, 2017.
"The Park Ranger vehicles were following so closely that Mr. Hemry decided to pull over, to allow the vehicles to pass, or to ascertain if he was being followed," the lawsuit states. "When Mr. Hemry pulled over at a location known as the Newton Creek Campground, the Park Ranger vehicles pulled in front of the Hemry family vehicle, to block it from continuing down the highway, and from each vehicle, a Park Ranger exited with a drawn firearm in hand."
The lawsuit states the Hemry family left the park at roughly 8:30 a.m. the morning of the alleged incident.
Prior to the incident, the lawsuit states, authorities in the area of Yellowstone National Park, were in a "state of alert" relating to a fugitive named Gerald Michael Bullinger, who was wanted for an alleged triple murder in Idaho. Bullinger was described as a grey-haired man in his 60s who weighed 240 lbs.
At roughly 8;30 a.m. the morning of the incident, someone told authorities they had "spoken with" Bullinger at the east entrance of the park and provided a license plate number that matched the car in which the Hemry family was traveling.
At roughly 9:11 a.m. that day, Park County authorities were issued a be on the lookout advisory for a white Toyota passenger car.
Not long after, the lawsuit states, authorities found a white Toyota, heading eastbound, driven by a man with white hair with matching license plate numbers.
Park Rangers stopped the Toyota.
"Using a loudspeaker to communicate with the Hemry famly, while they were held at gunpoint, the Rangers ordered Mr. Hemry to throw the car keys outside on the ground, and the family was ordered to place their hands on the inside of the roof of the car," the lawsuit states. "For a period of approximately a half-hour, the Hemry family was held at gunpoint in their vehicle while they pressed their hands against the inside roof of the car, with no ability to communicate, and no notice of the purpose of the detention."
The lawsuit states the family was held at gunpoint in their vehicle for roughly a half-hour without being told why. At some point, the first of two patrol vehicles from the Park County Sheriff's Office arrived.
Then, the lawsuit states, the adult Hemrys were ordered out of their vehicle, handcuffed and placed in separate patrol vehicles for another half-hour.
After about an hour, Brett Hemry was allowed to show his identification and was informed of the wanted murder suspect, Bullinger.
"Mr. Hemry was shown a picture of the suspect Bullinger, to whom he bore no resemblance, save for the light color of his hair, and at 10:52 p.m. — according to Park County Dispatch records — the incident ended, and the plaintiff family was told they were free to go," the lawsuit states.
Park County Sheriff's deputies Robert R. Cooke II and Brett M. Tillery are named as defendants in the lawsuit. Additionally, Park Service Rangers Bradley M. Ross and Mehran Azizian are named as defendants.
Cheyenne attorney Robert T. Moxley is representing the Hemry family and declined to speak on the record regarding the case.
Several calls to the Park County Attorney's Office were met with busy signals. K2 Radio News will continue attempting to contact the office and will update this story if more information becomes available.
The Hemry family is seeking unspecified damages, according to filings. The family is claiming authorities used excessive force, that they were falsely imprisoned and that they were falsely arrested.
Defendants in the case have not yet filed a response.