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Crow mother: U.S. government was negligent in son's death on reservation

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Posted at 6:20 PM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 13:33:53-04

CROW AGENCY - When Blossom Old Bull talks about her son Braven Glenn, tears fill her eyes.

“He was a good kid,” she said.

As she thinks back to his death in 2020, her face is filled with sadness but also pride.

“He was kind and sensitive,” she said in a recent interview with MTN News.

Over three years ago, in November of that year, Old Bull lost her 17-year-old son after a police chase, which ended in a collision with a train on the reservation.

Old Bull has filed a federal lawsuit, arguing negligence in her son’s death by the Crow Nation's now-defunct police department, which she says closed its doors two days after the deadly crash.

“It’s painful,” she said. “Every day is a struggle for us, all of us, my whole family.”

She says the pain stems from the fact that her family has never received answers about what exactly happened the night Braven was killed and that she, as his mother, was kept in the dark about the details of the crash.

“You are reliving that every day, of what happened to him, not having answers, and having to fight and be in fight mode instead of grieving mode,” said Old Bull.

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Braven was the second youngest of Old Bull’s nine children. He was a natural at sports, excelling in track and field and basketball.

Old Bull says, her son was already looking ahead to his future, talking about working to pay for his own car and possibly enlisting in the military.

On the evening of his death, Braven was heading to meet friends, according to Old Bull.

She didn’t know it at the time, but dash cam video retrieved months after the crash from a Crow Nation police officer’s patrol car showed Braven make a legal pass, on dotted yellow lines on the frontage road near Benteen on the reservation.

As seen in the video, the police officer is traveling around 64 miles per hour, and Braven is seen making the pass and then seen braking back down to the speed limit.

The officer initiates a traffic stop, which is a point of contention for Old Bull.

“Why would they say he was clocked going 90 when he wasn’t,” she said.

According to court documents in Old Bull’s lawsuit, defendant attorneys for the U.S. District of Montana claim Crow Tribal police officer Pamela Klier was passed by Braven going 90 mph in a 65 mph zone along Highway 451.

Old Bull disagrees, pointing back to what she sees in the dashcam video.

What happens next, Old Bull said, is the result of her son being scared. The video shows Braven’s car go off the dark highway, then appear to drive on a nearby railroad track, where an oncoming train strikes the vehicle.

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“That was the biggest thing that angered me, because why chase him,” said Old Bull.

Also, in the defendant’s response to Old Bull’s complaint are claims that Braven had alcohol and THC in his system and that he "was killed instantly, and his body was thrown from the vehicle.”

“Those were the biggest red flags that there’s something else going on here,” she said. “It’s just so corrupt.”

Old Bull says in addition to the discrepancies about Braven’s death, in court filings she also alleges she wasn’t allowed access to her son’s body at the mortuary and was kept from the crash report for months. She even questions how he was pronounced dead and how police went about notifying next of kin.

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The Crow Tribe had started its own police department just five months earlier, but days after Braven’s death, she says, the Crow Nation police department closed and records about his death vanished.

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Old Bull says those living on the reservations are left in a gray area of policing with federal and tribal jurisdictions clashing. In addition, she says her family among others in the wake of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons movement are also left in the dark about investigations into the deaths of loved ones.

“You say you are going to form a police department but then have outside entities come and police us, and never be held accountable for what you do,” she said.

Blossom also alleges those hired by the Crow Nation police department were not properly trained or supervised.

“He was just a kid,” she said. “He wasn’t an adult, he was scared.”

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Braven’s older brother Scott Old Bull says he helped raise him. He recalls his baby brother always lighting up a room and cracking a joke to lighten the mood.

“And just to think the last moments of his life, were like that, that’s the most painful part,” said Old Bull.