United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington Hires Assistant United States Attorney Dedicated to Prosecuting MMIP Cases in the Northwest United States
Spokane, Washington – U.S. District Judge Salvador Mendoza, Jr., sentenced Justin Dean Friedlander, 34, of Omak, Washington, to 46 months in federal prison for a shooting on July 4, 2021. Judge Mendoza also imposed three years of federal supervised release and more than $20,000 in restitution.
Although the sentence he imposed was lower than the United States’ recommendation, Judge Mendoza emphasized that the shooting was “incredibly dangerous.” Addressing Friedlander directly, Judge Mendoza stated, “You shot a person, leaving a scar” that the victim “will carry around for the rest of his life.”
According to court documents, on the evening of July 4, 2021, Friedlander’s victim was spending time with his brother and a friend in Omak, Washington. Friedlander, an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, pulled up in a Dodge Durango, brandishing a .22 caliber long rifle. After a short disagreement, Friedlander got upset and drove off. Moments later, Friedlander reemerged at a nearby apartment complex. Friedlander opened fire, sending a single gunshot toward the victim and his companions. The bullet struck the victim in the back of his left leg and lodged in his knee. Medical personnel determined that they could not remove the bullet without risking further injury to the victim.
After the shooting, Friedlander drove to the 12 Tribes Casino in Omak, where the Colville Tribal Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation later located his Durango. After obtaining a search warrant, Tribal Police and the FBI recovered several rounds of .22 caliber ammunition inside the Durango. The firearm, which Friedlander apparently hid, was never recovered. Surveillance video, from both shortly after the shooting and prior to Friedlander’s arrest, showed Friedlander removing items – including a long item consistent with a firearm – from the Durango and moving it into a different car.
“The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to prosecuting violent offenders who threaten public safety anywhere in Eastern Washington,” said Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. “Native Americans experience some of the highest rates of violence in the country, which often compound other traumas that Indigenous people frequently suffer. We will continue to address violent crime by ensuring that offenders are prosecuted to the fullest extent – both on Tribal land and elsewhere.”
U.S. Attorney Waldref continued, “I am grateful for the Colville Department of Public Safety, the FBI, and all of our federal partners, who work together to investigate violent crime on the Colville Reservation. Many violent crime cases, including this one, present unique challenges, including victims and witnesses who are sometimes hesitant to work with law enforcement. While we continue to work every day to increase trust in law enforcement throughout Eastern Washington, I commend the dedicated agents, officers, prosecutors, and victim advocates, who devote their time and resources to seeking justice on behalf of victims and working together to keep our communities safe and strong.”
“Sadly, this case is another example of the increasing trend of violent incidents on the reservations in the Eastern District,” said Donald M. Voiret, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Seattle Field Office. “We are committed to investigating these cases and strengthening our partnerships with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Tribal and local agencies to bring accountability to offenders and deter future criminal conduct.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Colville Tribal Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Richard R. Barker, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.