A pipeline protester will not have to testify before a grand jury investigating a November confrontation at the Backwater Bridge where a young woman was severely injured.
Federal prosecutors withdrew a subpoena for Steven Martinez, who resisted testifying in January, according to his Seattle-based attorney Ralph Hurvitz.
Hurvitz said prosecutors did not provide a reason. He indicated it is still possible the government could reissue a subpoena for another date.
"For now, it's good," Hurvitz said.
U.S. Attorney for the District of North Dakota Chris Myers declined to comment.
The scope of the grand jury’s inquiry and who else has been called to testify are unknown.
According to court documents, the grand jury pertains to a severe arm injury suffered by 21-year-old Sophia Wilansky and the standoff between protesters and police during the night of Nov. 20-21 at Backwater Bridge in Morton County. The incident began when protesters attempted to remove burned-out vehicles from the closed bridge. As the situation escalated, law enforcement used water hoses, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters, who allegedly threw rocks, logs and Molotov cocktails.
Protesters say the young woman's injury was caused by a projectile thrown by police. Police have alleged protesters were making explosives that could have caused the injury.
Martinez, 42, of Colorado, was originally called to testify on Jan. 4. He moved to quash the subpoena, arguing in court documents that the grand jury was an attempt to intimidate protesters and obtain information without a warrant.
"I will in no way condone or cooperate with this attempt to repress this movement here at Standing Rock," he told a crowd gathered outside the federal courthouse in Bismarck.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland denied the motion, in part due to information from the government that Martinez was the person who transported Wilansky from the protest to Prairie Knights and called 911 for her. He was issued a new subpoena for Feb. 1, which was continued to March 1 due to a trial conflict for his attorney, Hurvitz said.
The Water Protector Legal Collective, a legal group assisting Martinez and other protesters with their criminal cases, heralded the news as a victory.
"WPLC considers this grand jury to be one piece of a broader effort to criminalize water protectors and to unfairly target individuals in an effort to divide the movement," the group said in a statement. "This is a huge victory for Steve Martinez and for the Water Protector Legal Collective’s efforts to provide effective legal defense."