Dot Lake’s new tribal officer was arrested twice in a four-day period over the weekend and faces DUI, felony assault and weapons misconduct charges.
Morgan Thompson, 32, was hired by the Dot Lake Tribal Council earlier this month to help combat a growing meth problem in the small village on the Alaska Highway between Tok and Delta Junction.
According to two news releases posted Monday on the Alaska State Trooper website, at approximately 6 p.m. Friday troopers found a vehicle that had driven off the Parks Highway at milepost 223. The driver was asleep behind the wheel, the vehicle was running and a handgun was visible on the seat next to the driver’s right hand.
Troopers called for backup and blocked the vehicle from leaving the scene. The driver, Thompson, appeared to be intoxicated and was arrested on charges of driving under the influence and weapons misconduct. Troopers notified Thompson’s employer.
At 1:19 a.m. Monday, Fairbanks trooper dispatch received a 911 call from two men reporting a man in civilian clothing had identified himself as a law enforcement officer, rammed their vehicle and pointed a gun at them.
Soon after the 911 call, Thompson called Fairbanks troopers and said he was a law enforcement officer and was following a vehicle after an altercation. Dispatch advised Thompson to stop following the vehicle, but he disregarded their instructions, according to the news release.
Tok-based troopers responded to the scene and determined Thompson was intoxicated. He was arrested on charges of DUI, weapons misconduct, impersonating a peace officer and three counts of felony third-degree assault, according to troopers.
According to Mike Walleri, the attorney for the Dot Lake Tribal Council, Thompson registered a breath-alcohol content of 0.05 at the time of his arrest Friday, below the legal limit of 0.08. Thompson was placed on the equivalent of administrative leave, and a blood sample was taken for further testing.
“The tribe was trying to keep an open mind about their response. Thompson was placed on a restricted status by the tribal administration, and he was supposed to not do anything until it was cleared up,” Walleri said Monday afternoon.
According to Walleri, Thompson heard that a Dot Lake resident and several people from Delta Junction were at a suspected drug house in the village early Monday morning. The house had recently been vacated by the resident, and outsiders are not allowed in the village due to a COVID-19 lockdown.
“He (Thompson) took it upon himself to go over there armed. When they saw him roll up, they left and he gave chase. Our current understanding is that he rammed the car trying to stop them, believing there was a drug transaction going on,” Walleri said. “He pointed a gun at them, they disarmed him and beat him with his own pistol.”
Walleri said he and the tribal council are still investigating the matter but are troubled by some aspects of the trooper response.
“Troopers responded in a suspiciously short time and arrested Mr. Thompson,” Walleri said, noting that Dot Lake is almost an hour from Tok. “The problem is, he was beaten with a pistol and that’s an assault, but he was the only one arrested.”
Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7582. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.