The United States has agreed to pay $35,000 to settle judicial and police misconduct claims brought by two Native Americans against a Nooksack judge and several members of the Nooksack police force.
In July 2019, Nooksack elder George Adams, 72, was assaulted and battered by three Nooksack officers at his home in Everson after they arrived one morning to arrest his daughter. With the family’s lawyer on speakerphone, George Adams asked the officers under what pretense they were there to arrest Elile Adams, 36.
The officers refused to answer his question and escalated the encounter without any provocation. A Nooksack officer kneed George Adams in the groin before throwing him against a concrete stairway along with two other officers. He was handcuffed and arrested for obstructing a public official and resisting arrest.
The police violence was captured on the three Nooksack officers’ body cameras.
The Nooksack officers proceeded to also arrest and handcuff Elile Adams before booking her into the Whatcom County Jail, pursuant to a warrant issued by then Nooksack Tribal Court Chief Judge Ray Dodge. In the officers’ body camera footage, Elile Adams’ then five-year old daughter is seen in her pajamas, watching her mom's arrest.
The warrant for Elile Adams’ arrest arose from a child custody proceeding that Dodge himself initiated against her after she sought a domestic violence protection order from the Tribal Court in 2017. At that time, the U.S. rejected Dodge’s authority to take any action or issue any orders as a Nooksack judge. Elile Adams protested Dodge's lack of authority and the Tribal Court's lack of jurisdiction over her child, but Dodge refused her pleas.