News and Press Releases


October 7, 2011

Spokane – Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that James Edward Kensler, age 32 of Nespelem, Washington, was sentenced on October 3, 2011 to serve a 50-month prison term for assaulting a federal officer. Kensler was also sentenced to a 50-month prison term for an assault on a former girlfriend. The District Court ordered the sentences to run concurrently. On July 8, 2011, Kensler, an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation, pleaded guilty to those charges.

On November 16, 2010, Colville Tribal Police received a report that Kensler had choked his girlfriend to unconsciousness. A witness observed Kensler lean toward his girlfriend in an attempt to kiss her and then put his hands around her throat, choking her until she fell to the ground. The witness struggled with Kensler and pushed him outside where he fled.

On February 11, 2011, Colville Tribal Police Officer W.E. Evans was traveling southbound on SR 155, on his way to his assigned patrol area on the Colville Indian Reservation. Corporal Evans observed an adult male on the side of the highway. The man was carrying a case of beer and flagged down the officer. Kensler provided a false name to the officer and asked for a ride. The officer told the man he would have to relinquish the beer and the man declined. After the officer drove away, dispatch advised that the man with the false name had an active warrant. Corporal Evans returned, confronted Kensler and told him he was under arrest. Kensler then threw the case of beer at the officer, striking him in the groin. Kensler fled but was later apprehended by Colville Tribal Police and officers from the Okanogan County Sheriff's Office.
Tribal Police Officers are considered federal officers when their duties include the enforcement of federal law. Certain Colville Tribal Police Officers are authorized to enforce Tribal, state, and federal laws on the Colville Indian Reservation.

Michael C. Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, said, "The Department of Justice has made a commitment to reduce violence on Indian reservations across the country, including violence against law enforcement and domestic violence. This prosecution is part of that joint effort between federal authorities and tribal law enforcement."

This investigation was conducted by the Colville Tribal Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case was prosecuted by Rudy Verschoor, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.


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