BUNKERVILLE, NV - APRIL 24: Rancher Cliven Bundy speaks during a news conference near his ranch on April 24, 2014 in Bunkerville, Nevada. The Bureau of Land Management and Bundy have been locked in a dispute for a couple of decades over grazing rights on public lands. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
The history of Cliven and Ammon Bundy
02:31 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

A federal judge on Monday dismissed a case against rancher Cliven Bundy that stemmed from an armed standoff with federal authorities in Nevada four years ago, according to court papers.

Bundy and several others – including his sons, Ryan and Ammon Bundy – were indicted by a federal grand jury in 2016 after the showdown two years earlier against federal land managers on the open range where Bundy’s cattle grazed and fed.

Cliven Bundy would not pay grazing fees, arguing the land belongs to the state and not the US government.

In December, US District Judge Gloria Navarro declared a mistrial in the case against the Bundys and self-styled Montana militia leader Ryan Payne, CNN affiliate KLAS reported. Navarro said then a fair trial was impossible because prosecutors failed to hand over evidence that could have helped the defense, KLAS reported.

Cliven Bundy

Navarro dismissed the case against the Bundys and Payne in a hearing on Monday, according to court papers and a lawyer for the Bundys.

Bundy was released Monday, his attorney Bret Whipple told CNN.

The standoff – Bundy said: “It wasn’t a standoff. It was a protest” – began in April 2014 after federal agents tried to round up Bundy’s cattle on land near Bunkerville. The Bundy ranch is about 100 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

Navarro had released Cliven Bundy in November during the trial but he chose to stay in prison, saying he didn’t want to violate the principle “that other people are still in custody and he would be free,” according to Whipple.

“It was important for [Cliven] to go home to his family but it was important to him to go home as a free man, with no contingencies, no conditions,” Whipple said.

The federal Bureau of Land Management and local authorities backed down in the face off, halted the roundup and returned about 300 head to avoid any violence.

Authorities later accused Bundy of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, assault on a federal law officer by use of a deadly and dangerous weapon, interference with commerce by extortion and obstruction of justice.

“The defendants recruited, organized, and led hundreds of other followers in using armed force against law enforcement officers in order to thwart the seizure and removal of Cliven Bundy’s cattle from federal public lands,” the indictment said.

Bundy faced life in prison if convicted.

In 2016, Ryan and Ammon Bundy were among those who took part in a 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon after gathering outside for a demonstration to support two ranchers who were convicted of arson, and in defiance of federal land policies.

One man was killed during an attempted traffic stop weeks into the occupation of a vacant building on the refuge. Police said he was reaching for a gun after emerging from an SUV; prosecutors said the shooting was justified. The standoff ended after the last holdouts surrendered to authorities.

Before the final surrender, federal agents arrested the elder Bundy in the 2014 case; he did not take part in the 2016 standoff.

In October, the younger Bundys and others were found not guilty of firearms charges and conspiracy to impede federal workers in the wildlife refuge standoff.

The US Attorney’s Office had not responded to CNN’s calls for comment on Monday.

CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian contributed to this report.