Thursday, February 22, 2024

Man again arrested on trespass charge

Hagadone News Network | February 8, 2024 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — The Bonner County commissioners’ regular meeting was delayed Tuesday by almost half an hour after Dave Bowman — who was trespassed from the building Jan. 26 for disruption and perceived threats — arrived at the meeting despite the ban.

During the Jan. 26 meeting, Bowman was informed he was being trespassed from the Bonner County Administration Building after having disrupted previous meetings as well as sending emails to county staff that some — including Commissioner Luke Omodt — perceived as threatening to both staff and the public.

Bowman was eventually arrested after refusing to leave the January meeting but was not booked into the jail.

Tuesday, Bowman returned to the Administration Building, armed with a handgun as well as a pocket knife — neither item unusual for Bonner County residents to carry as a matter of course, even while attending meetings or running errands as well as Idaho being a concealed carry state. However, after the perceived threats of gun violence against the meeting’s sergeant at arms, Bowman’s presence made many at the meeting feel unsafe, a meeting attendee said.

The Sandpoint police were called and multiple squad cars pulled into the parking lot. Officers waited outside the meeting with Bowman as the commissioners began discussing taking a vote to officially trespass him from the property.

During the conversation, Commissioner Asia Williams voiced her disapproval of the motion, claiming it opened a wide door for a lawsuit against the county. Without a trespass rule, she said the county’s jurisdiction to trespass someone is unclear and requested legal counsel from Deputy Prosecutor Bill Wilson.

“The risk associated with trespassing someone is basically because we don’t like what they have to say,” Williams said. “That is a very dangerous road for Bonner County to go down.”

However, Omodt did not allow Wilson to weigh in on the topic.

“Trespass is a criminal offense,” he said. “The safety of our employees … is an absolute priority. The safety of every member of the public who attends, and even us, is an absolute priority.”

Williams again said that the commissioners should not be taking any votes without proper legal opinion first, and told her fellow commissioners that they were wasting the police’s time by arguing over this.

“Sandpoint PD shouldn’t be standing here,” she said. “There are people out in our county that need their help.”

The District 2 commissioner also claimed that Bowman had done nothing worthy of being trespassed from the meeting, as he had “done nothing but sit down.” Disregarding his previous behavior during meetings as well as the emails he sent county officials, Williams said he had portrayed no aggressive behavior that warrants a trespass charge, claiming “sitting peacefully is not a reason.”

As a member of the board, Williams claimed that she had a right to ask questions of anyone, including Bowman, whom she said she wanted to invite into the meeting to answer those questions. That statement was quickly shut down by Omodt, who said that Bowman was not allowed back in the meeting regardless.

Williams continued to argue her point and did not cast her vote for the move to amend the order of agenda to include a vote to trespass Bowman, or the vote to approve the amended order of agenda, which both passed by Omodt and Commissioner Steve Bradshaw.

When the motion to trespass Bowman from the property came up, Williams said there needed to be more dialogue on the topic before a vote could be taken.

“OK, the dialogue is Mr. Bowman sent emails threatening our [inaudible] in the building,” Bradshaw said.

Again, Williams stated the county does not have a trespass policy, and asked what the guise Omodt was using, “because we need to know what we need to start defending ourselves with.” No one should stand by and allow Bowman to be trespassed from the meeting, she told the audience.

“When someone writes that they will take offensive action, that they will not retreat, that they are prepared — if someone has a firearm in a Second Amendment state and demonstrates such irresponsible behavior in writing,” Omodt began but was cut off by Williams, who claimed he was wasting time and not answering her questions about the trespass policy.

“We’re telling you, you won’t listen,” Bradshaw responded.

To that, Williams responded that the commissioners were making the jury’s decision for them with how they were behaving.

While Williams was still making her comments, a roll call vote was called, which she spoke through and did not cast her vote. Omodt and Bradshaw voted to trespass Bowman and the motion was carried.

Omodt then called a recess to the meeting so he could work with SPD to trespass Bowman. He walked out of the room amid insults being hurled at him as well as many in the audience volunteering to “protect him from Mr. Bowman” themselves.

After again being informed that he was trespassed from the building and being asked to leave, Bowman refused, citing sections of Idaho Code and claiming he was allowed to be there. Williams, also, tried to tell police that he was her guest and as a commissioner, she was allowed to have anyone stay in the meetings who was considered her guest.

Neither of these arguments succeeded, though, and Bowman was once again arrested for trespassing at the Administration Building. His trespass order will remain in place for one year.

    Dave Bowman, pictured standing to the left, is advised by Bonner County Commission Chairman Luke Omodt that he is being placed under citizen's arrest for trespassing after attending the commission's weekly business meeting despite being trespassed from the county admin building for a year.  

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