Spokane, Washington – Senior U.S. District Judge William Fremming Nielsen has sentenced Justin Thomas Gentemann, age 31, of Omak, Washington, to 37 months in federal prison for a March 4, 2021 assault resulting in serious bodily injury to a domestic partner in Indian county. Senior Judge Nielsen also imposed a period of 3 years’ federal supervised release.
In announcing the sentence, Senior Judge Nielsen emphasized the need to protect victims of domestic abuse, especially when such abuse occurs as a result of alcohol and controlled substance use. “This case was very serious and involved repeated conduct,” Senior Judge Nielsen stated. “Serious conduct means serious consequences.” Ultimately, Senior Judge Nielsen agreed with the United States’ sentencing recommendations and imposed a sentence at the high end of the sentencing range agreed upon by the parties.
According to court documents, on March 4, 2021, Gentemann and his girlfriend at the time were at Owhi Lake, which is located on the Colville Indian Reservation. Gentemann had been drinking and accused his girlfriend of being unfaithful to him. As Gentemann continued to drink, he became more aggressive. Eventually, Gentemann punched the girlfriend in the chest and threw her to the ground. Gentemann then drove away in the girlfriend’s truck. Gentemann returned shortly thereafter and chased down the girlfriend. At this point, Gentemann headbutted his victim and punched her, breaking her nose. The girlfriend was able to escape the scene by getting a ride from an eyewitness. After the assault, the girlfriend had blood on her sweatshirt from the injuries to her nose.
When Gentemann was placed under arrest for the assault, he became belligerent with Colville Tribal Police Officer Mackenzie Shaffer, threatening to “beat the fuck out” of the officer. Gentemann later attempted to kick Officer Shaffer, who had to step back to avoid being struck in his leg. Gentemann, however, did hit Officer Shaffer’s hand, causing a contusion, which required medical treatment.
As Senior Judge Nielsen noted at the sentencing hearing, Gentemann has a “track record” of behavior involving alcohol or domestic violence. Court papers indicate Gentemann has a 2014 conviction for driving under the influence, a 2015 conviction for malicious mischief, and convictions in 2017 and 2018 for domestic violence.
“My office is committed to prosecuting those who commit domestic abuse,” U.S. Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref stated. “Too often, domestic violence victims struggle to access the justice system to get the protection and resources they need. I am grateful for the tremendous law enforcement agents, victim advocates, and prosecutors who handle these challenging cases. By working together, we make our communities safer and stronger, and we can ensure Native American women and families are protected not only from domestic violence, but also from retaliation when they disclose what they experienced.”
“I also want to commend the law enforcement officers who responded to the scene of the domestic assault,” U.S. Attorney Waldref continued. “Our first-line responders put themselves in harm’s way to protect members of our community. I’m grateful for Officer Schaffer’s service and thankful he was not seriously injured when Mr. Gentemann attacked him.”
“Violence against Native American women is starting to receive the much needed attention it warrants,” said Donald Voiret, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Seattle Field Office. “I know this office and our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to move quickly and hold perpetrators of violence on our state’s reservations accountable for their crimes.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Colville Tribal Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Richard R. Barker, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.