Former Togiak resident to sue city and former mayor

Feb 7, 2020

Former Togiak resident Ronald Oertwich is suing the city and former mayor Teodoro Pauk over his imprisonment in 2017.

Former Togiak resident Ronald Oertwich is suing the city and former mayor Teodoro Pauk over his imprisonment in 2017.

 In January 2017, a Togiak Village Police Officer allegedly notified a Tribal Police Officer of a suspicious tote addressed to Oertwich.  The police officer allegedly obtained a tribal search warrant and found the tote filled with liquor, a shotgun and dog food. 

Togiak is a dry city, meaning alcohol isn’t allowed. Two months later, on March 27, Oertwich was tried by a group made up of Togiak's tribal court and community members, after which the Togiak tribal court banished him from the city. Oertwich was never charged under state law. He was transported to the airport and boarded a plane to Dillingham.

Oertwich returned the following day to retrieve items from his home. He was confronted by the Togiak VPSO and a Tribal Police Officer. They allegedly put Oertwich in the back of a cruiser and locked him in a Togiak jail cell.

In a complaint filed by his attorney, Oertwich alleges that he was held in a cell at the Togiak jail for six days and was not given insulin, which he required for a medical condition. 

He also alleges that he didn’t have enough food and was denied basic hygiene and communication. The complaint says an officer and four others people handcuffed him and duct-taped his legs together before transporting him to the airport.

Ronald Oertwich is suing on five counts of false imprisonment, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, battery and a civil rights violation of the 14th amendment. Oertwich’s opening brief will be filed in Anchorage next month, and the city’s response will come a month after that. KDLG reached out to the city of Togiak, which declined to comment.

Correction: The original article stated that Ronald Oertwich’s name was Robert Oertwich. The article has been corrected. 

The original article also stated that Oertwich was arrested for hiding 22 bottles of liquor and a shotgun in a tote full of dog food. Oertwich was never arrested under state law. The article has been updated to clarify the timeline of events to show when Oertwich was imprisoned. Finally, Oertwich is suing under a civil rights violation of the 14th amendment, not due process as originally reported. 

Contact the author at tyler@kdlg.org or 907-843-2200

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