Tuesday, March 16, 2004


Rancher arrested, cattle impounded

Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A southern New Mexico rancher whose cattle are being seized in a grazing rights dispute was charged with assault after he tried to trample a federal officer while on horseback, officials said Monday.

According to a federal criminal complaint, Kit Laney, 43, yelled profanities Sunday evening while galloping his horse toward three U.S. Forest Service officers who were guarding an enclosure that held some of his recently impounded cattle.

The complaint said one of the officers injured his knee and shin when he was knocked into a cattle guard.

As the confrontation in the rugged Gila National Forest unfolded, Laney continued to taunt the officers from atop his horse and tried to remove fencing the government is using to temporarily hold his cattle, the complaint said.

"Whenever the officers approached Laney, he guided his horse in their direction, threatening to ram or trample them," according to the complaint. Laney was also accused of hitting a contract worker with his reins.

After Laney dismounted, one of the officers used pepper spray on him but he continued to resist, kicking with his spurred boots, the complaint said. The altercation eventually ended with four officers taking Laney to the ground.

Laney remained in custody Monday on charges including assault on a peace officer, obstruction of a court order and intimidation. He appeared briefly in court Monday, and was scheduled for a detention hearing today.

Laney and his wife, Sherry, have been involved in a lengthy legal battle with the U.S. Forest Service over grazing rights on the 146,000-acre Diamond Bar allotment in southwestern New Mexico....

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