Park County Sheriff’s Office Sued for 2017 Pullover Incident
Written by Andrew-Rossi on July 30, 2021
After an accidental pullover and case of mistaken identity in 2017, a Missouri family is suing the Park County Sheriff’s Office and the National Park Service.
The Park County Sheriff’s Office is one of the defendants in a lawsuit filed by Brett and Genalyn Hemry of Independence, Missouri. According to the Cowboy State Daily, the grievance stems from an hour-long traffic stop near Yellowstone’s East Gate in July 2017.
At the time, Park and Teton Counties officers were on the lookout for Gerald Michael Bullinger, wanted in connection with a triple murder in Idaho. Bullinger’s car was found abandoned in Bridger Teton National Forest on July 12. Authorities suspected he might have stolen another vehicle and traveled thru Yellowstone, eluding the law.
On July 17, the Hemry family drove along the North Fork Highway towards Cody when they were pursued by two N.P.S. law enforcement vehicles. After passing thru the East Gate, Brett Hemry was targeted because of his white hair – a coincidental attribute he shares with Bullinger.
Once the Hemrys stopped their vehicle, things escalated quickly and allegedly only got worse once Park County Sheriff’s deputies arrived.
“When Mr. Hemry pulled over … the Park Ranger vehicles pulled in front of the Hemry family vehicle to block it from continuing down the highway, and from each vehicle, a Park Ranger exited with a drawn firearm in hand,” the complaint said. “The family was detained at gunpoint in their vehicle for about a half-hour, without notice or knowledge of the rangers’ purpose.”
Park County Sheriff’s deputies arrived shortly after and also drew their firearms. It’s also alleged that one of the responding officers pointed a gun at the Hemrys’ daughter.
After roughly an hour of detention in a Park County Sheriff’s deputy’s vehicle, Brett Hemry was allowed to display his identification and was told why he was stopped.
Brett and Genalyn Hemry seek unspecified damages for violations of their rights against improper search and seizure, excessive force, and false imprisonment.
“The seizure and detention of the plaintiffs by the Park County (deputies) was continued for an unreasonable time, and under unreasonable circumstances, in the complete absence of reasonable suspicion or other constitutional justification,” the complaint reads.
Furthermore, the lawsuit seeks unspecified damages to compensate the Hemrys for “their loss of freedom and for their emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.” There are also punitive damages for the “intentional, reckless, and outrageous actions” of the law enforcement officers.
After a nationwide search, Gerald Michael Bullinger remains at large. He is accused of murdering his wife, Cheryl Baker, along with two other women – 48-year-old Nadja Medley and her 14-year-old daughter Payton in Caldwell, Idaho.
The crime was featured on a 2017 episode of True Crime Daily.