Brennon Nastacio, a Standing Rock water protector fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline, was bailed out of jail hours after turning himself into the Morton County Sheriff’s Department. He is not allowed to leave North Dakota.
Morton County charged him with a class “C” felony for “terrorizing” a Dakota Access Pipeline contractor after he helped disarm the security contractor, who pointed an assault rifle at him and other water protectors on October 27 last year.
The contractor, Kyle Thompson, was apprehended by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, however, the authorities declined to charge Thompson with any crimes. Instead, they placed Nastacio on a “Most Wanted” list.
In a video recorded before Nastacio turned himself in to the police, he declared, “At first, turning myself in wasn’t what I planned because I believe I’ve done nothing wrong. With over 4,300 folks pledging to support me, I trust that they will stand behind me today so I can put this stress behind me.”
“Since I found out I have a warrant, I have to live life looking over my shoulders, replaying that day over and over knowing what I did to protect [the Sacred Stone] camp was the right thing.”
Nastacio added, “I’ve been called a hero by many, but Morton County wants to see me locked up.” By turning himself in, he hoped Morton County would tell him why they think trying to save lives on October 27 was a bad thing to do.
“Did they not want me to confront Kyle and let him use his AR-15 on water protectors?”
Nastacio has a lawyer, but it is someone with the legal collective at Standing Rock that is handling over thirty other cases. He does not have a lawyer, who can solely focus on his case. But Nastacio is trying to obtain an out-of-state lawyer, who can represent him.
On October 27, Thompson, who had a “DAPL security” identification card, drove his truck toward the main encampment. He had an AR-15 on the passenger side of his truck. Water protectors followed the truck. Thompson left the truck and was pursued by protectors, who demanded he put down his weapon.
During an interview with Native News Online, Nastacio said, “My son came to camp with me in August. All I could think about was his and everyone at camp’s safety. That’s why I went towards Kyle when folks called me, even though all I had to defend myself and everyone was a knife.”
Thompson backed into a nearby body of water, and Nastacio followed while talking to him. According to Nastacio, he told Thompson nothing would happen to him if he put down his gun or gave him his gun. He wanted to protect everyone and prevent any incident, where law enforcement might shoot him because Thompson was armed with a rifle and dressed like a water protector.
Eventually, Thompson handed his weapon over to Bureau of Indian Affairs officers, who apprehended him.
Water protector Ryan Redhawk filmed the incident. In an interview for The Young Turks, Redhawk said Thompson initially suggested he was “there to support the cause.”
Thompson later changed his story and said he was there to document equipment that was set on fire. However, there are numerous questions related to what Thompson was doing that day, including why documenting equipment would require someone to drive at a high speed down a road with an assault weapon.
Thompson disputed the idea that he was driving toward camp in a posting on Facebook. But he did not dispute the fact that he cocked his rifle and pointed it at water protectors, who tried to convince for nearly a half hour to put his gun down.
“My role at camp is search and rescue, along with camp security,” Nastacio shared. “I make sure no drugs, alcohol, or weapons are brought into this camp.”
“On October 27, I was driving. People called me over shouting that someone had a gun. When I approached them, I saw a stranger with an AR-15. I didn’t know Kyle Thompson was a DAPL worker at the time because he was dressed as a water protector.”
Nastacio does not have a court date. He now must raise funds to pay for a legal defense in order to fight the felony charge Morton County brought against him.