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Cletus Cole, mother, Earline Bearcrane Cole, father, and Precious Bearcrane, daughter, to Steven Bearcrane Cole,

Cletus Cole, mother, Earline Bearcrane Cole, father, and Precious Bearcrane, daughter, to Steven Bearcrane Cole, who was shot to death in 2005, stand on the steps of the Paul G. Hatfield Federal Courthouse in July in Helena after a hearing in the 10-year-old civil lawsuit questioning the FBI investigation into Bearcrane's death.

On Thursday, the family of a man fatally shot on the Crow Reservation in 2005 saw another blow to their lawsuit claiming racial bias in the FBI investigation.

After a morning hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Sam Haddon rejected the family's request for a jury trial, saying any trial in the case will be held in front of the court alone. 

No criminal charges were filed in the death of 23-year-old Steven Bearcrane, a Crow tribal member. The FBI concluded that Bobby Jean Holcomb, who is white, shot him in self-defense.

The family had sought a jury trial, while the agency argued the law allows only for a trial by judge.

The FBI has asked the court to dismiss the case entirely, but the court has yet to rule on that. 

The 10-year-old lawsuit saw most of the original claims dismissed in 2010, when a judge found the family lacked standing to sue on those claims.

The family is still pursuing their remaining claim that the FBI’s discriminatory investigation caused Bearcrane’s parents and daughter to be denied crime victims compensation, the AP reported.

Bearcrane died on Feb. 2, 2005, after arguing with Holcomb about the treatment of a horse, and a confrontation at Holcomb’s home. Both men were ranch hands for a cattle company on the Crow Reservation.

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Justice Reporter

Justice reporter for the Billings Gazette.