Cowlitz Tribe Sues to Block Release of UFC Casino Assault Video

Posted on: November 14, 2018, 05:28h. 

Last updated on: November 14, 2018, 05:28h.

The Cowlitz Tribe has launched legal action to prevent the release of security video showing the assault of a customer last month after an Ultimate Fighting Championship event at its Ilani Casino in Washington State.

Cowlitz Tribe
The Cowlitz’s Ilani Casino was the scene of a serious assault in October, but the tribe says releasing a security video to the victim would pose a security threat to the casino’s staff and customers. (Image: Ilani Casino)

Richard Christie was attacked by a group of strangers after the October 6 event. He has requested the footage from Clark County Sheriff’s Office under Washington’s Public Records Act to better understand what happened to him, his lawyer said.

But the tribe argues this would compromise the casino’s security and “expose it to potential criminal activity,” putting employees and customers at “increased risk.” It also asserts that as a sovereign nation is not subject to the Public Records Act.

It asks the Clark County Supreme Court to permanently bar the sheriff’s office from releasing the video. The tribe complied with a request from law enforcement to turn the tape over last month.

Unless (the Clark County Sheriff’s Office) is first temporarily and then permanently enjoined from producing the confidential videos, (Cowlitz Tribal Gaming Authority) will be irreparably harmed,” claims the tribe in its lawsuit. “Once released, the information will no longer be private and cannot be made private again.”

Victim ‘Beaten Senseless’

According to The Spokesman-Review, the tape captures “snippets” of the assault, which suggests the tribe is concerned that it will highlight areas of the casino that are not covered by security cameras, although the newspaper’s calls requesting a comment were not returned.

But Christie’s lawyer, Quinn H. Posner, told The Spokesman-Review that it appears the tribe is trying to hide what happened from the public. His client was quickly knocked unconscious by the assailants before being “beaten senseless” and has a right to know what happened to him. Posner said Christie did not expect any objection from the tribe.

Ilani Legal Fight

The Ilani opened last year following a long legal battle. Opponents attempted to block the casino, claiming the US Department of Interior had erred in granting the tribe its sovereign reservation in 2010.

They argued the Indian Reorganization Act only allows newly acquired land to be designated sovereign territory if a tribe was federally recognized prior to 1934. The Cowlitz was only recognized in 2000.

In April 2017, the US Supreme Court declined to hear the case, effectively paving the way for the $510 million resort to open.