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Lake County

Cops nab wrong guy



It was after 2 in the morning. No one answered the door. It was locked. So a few cops decided to boost Lake County Sheriff's Deputy Dan Duryee into a Polson apartment through an open bedroom window. Inside, Duryee, with his weapon drawn, startled Patrick Haun, who was asleep on his couch. Duryee tackled Haun and pinned him against the floor, thinking he was apprehending a man suspected of domestic assault.

But Duryee had entered apartment No. 5, not apartment No. 4, as he had thought. They got the wrong guy.

Haun is suing over the June 2009 incident, claiming three Polson police officers and two Lake County Sheriff's deputies violated his rights and used excessive force when they mistakenly arrested and handcuffed him, which he says resulted in physical pain and emotional trauma. He filed the case in federal court in May 2011. He's seeking $300,000 in damages.

The defendants are former Polson Police Chief Doug Chase, newly appointed Chief Wade Nash and officer Anthony Dentler, and Lake County deputies Jeff Ford and Duryee.

In a separate matter, Duryee is being investigated by the Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training Council, the state body that polices the police, for falsely claiming that he served in the Gulf War, a lie he confessed to in 2010. Duryee faces the possible revocation of his law enforcement certification.

The attorneys for the defendants in the Haun case say the cops had adequate cause to enter the apartment and made a reasonable mistake. In a statement filed on Dec. 12, they claim that the cops announced their presence through the window several times. They say that once Duryee was inside the apartment, Haun yelled profanities and resisted arrest. Haun allegedly told Duryee, "You're lucky I don't have a gun. You would have had a fucking bullet in your head."

"You couldn't make these things up," said U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch during a pretrial conference in Missoula's federal courthouse on Jan. 6. He set the trial for Nov. 5, but attorneys for the plaintiff and defendants said a settlement could be reached before then.

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