From the February 2001 Idaho Observer:

Prewitt files civil complaint in court of conviction

Sheriff, police chief, four officers being sued by man serving 7-10 for being pepper sprayed and shot by deputies

SANDPOINT -- On January 24, 2001, Rex Allen Prewitt, 44, filed a civil complaint in the court that convicted and sentenced him to serve 7-10 years in prison for aggravated assault on a police officer July 9, 1999. Named in the suit are former Sandpoint Police Chief William Kice, Former Bonner County Sheriff Chip Roos, Deputy Bill Tilson, former Deputy Eric Skinner, BCSD Detective John Valdez and 911 Dispatcher Beverly Knapp.

Prewitt was allegedly a suspect in a vandalism that occured at Snow River Sheepskins in Downtown Sandpoint at approximately 10:30 p.m. the evening of January 25, 1999. Bonner County Sheriff's deputies Tilson and Skinner arrived at the Prewitt's rural residence at approximately 11:30 p.m. What happened from there on is the matter in dispute. The end result was that Prewitt was shot through the left hand and right shoulder. After spending several months in jail, he was convicted and sent to prison.

Deputies claim that they arrived at a lighted house with their lights flashing. After announcing themselves, Prewitt burst from the home pointing a handgun at Deputy Skinner. Deputy Tilson then shot Prewitt in defense of his partner. Deputies also claim they heard no barking dogs from inside the residence.

Witnesses say that deputies approached the house without flashing lights and the Prewitt house was dark and dogs were barking. Prewitt, who claims he was asleep on the couch, opened the door to see what his dogs were barking at when he was suddenly blinded by a flashlight, pepper sprayed and shot by whom he believed to be burglars. The gun, which belongs to the Prewitts, was unloaded. According to the Prewitts, has no fingerprints. Photographic evidence captured by police at the time indicates the gun was planted by the deputies in an attempt to justify shooting their shooting of an innocent man.

The complaint alleges that the defendants' failure to adhere to department policies caused deputies to respond to the 911 call in a manner that resulted in serious injury to the Plaintiff. The complaint also alleges that defendants “Evan [Chip] Roos and John Valdez have acted in a manner that deprives due process and and equal protection in violation of the IV and XIV amendments of the United States Constitution, subjecting plaintiif to an unwarranted loss of liberty, and deprivation of other rights...”

The case has been assigned to District Judge James Michaud. Prewitt was convicted and sentenced in the court of Judge Michaud.

The evidence supports Prewitt's story, which has not changed since January 25, 1999, but does not support the many evolving stories told by police.

See pages 11-14 for details

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