HELENA, Mont. — The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take up the petition of an FBI agent seeking immunity against allegations that he failed to properly investigate the deaths of two men because they were Native Americans.
That means the lawsuit filed by the families of the deceased men against Matthew Oravec can go on. The families of Steven Bearcrane and Robert “Bugsy” Springfield claim Oravec conducted only the most cursory investigations into the deaths of the Crow tribal members.
Bearcrane, 23, died Feb. 2, 2005, in a shooting on a ranch on the Crow Reservation. Springfield, 48, who lived in Casper, Wyo., died on a bow-hunting trip in the Bighorn Mountains. He disappeared Sept. 19, 2004, and hunters found his remains in October 2005.
The families claim that Native American victims are regularly denied adequate investigation and prosecution of their cases. They sued the FBI and Oravec’s supervisor, but a federal judge ruled in 2010 they only had sufficient standing to claim that Oravec was motivated by racial animosity, and dismissed the claims against the FBI and the supervisor.