State objects to providing National Guard recordings in Tilsen case

Tilsen appeared back in court Friday.
Tilsen appeared back in court Friday.(Connor Matteson)
Published: Dec. 18, 2020 at 1:04 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The contest between the State and NDN Collective President Nick Tilsen continues with requests for military information and a motion to stop referring to protests held during President Trump’s pre-Independence Day visit as “anti-Trump.”

State’s attorneys and Tilsen’s defense appeared in Seventh Judicial Circuit court via Zoom on Friday to argue a motion that the State provide evidence in the possession of S.D. Air and Army National Guard personnel during the July 3rd protests at Mt. Rushmore.

Specifically, Bruce Ellison, a member of Tilsen’s defense team, asked the state to provide audio and video recordings, reports and debriefs related to military personnel involved in the July 3rd protests.

Ellison said these items would help his team make a case for improper use of riot-dispensing equipment and improper military personnel training by security forces monitoring the demonstrations.

State’s Attorney Kelsey Weber said that all known recordings have been sent to Tilsen’s lawyers, but reiterated the State’s objection to providing military information. The State cited military-related recordings as “tactical information” and not permissible in court under State v. Muetze and Brady v. Maryland, among other cases.

Presiding Circuit Judge Craig Pfeifle did not make a ruling on this motion after saying the defense’s requests were not submitted in writing - only orally before the court.

Judge Pfeifle later denied the defendant’s motion for a bill of particulars. This motion would require the State to identify the specific victims tied to the charges of obstructing a police officer and disorderly conduct. Tilsen faces a total of seven charges following the Keystone protests.

The court did pass a motion that would limit the State and any witnesses from referring to the protests as an “anti-Trump” rally following arguments from the defense. Weber referred to the State’s initial objection in court - that Tilsen and NDN Collective labeled the protests as such when referring to “Trump’s pre-Independence Day visit - an unwelcome intrusion on stolen land” in a Facebook post. This objection also cited a statement given by Tilsen on the day of the protest, where he referred to the President’s visit as a “tour of racism and colonialism.”

A following motions hearing will be held on March 5, 2021.

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