DCI: shots fired by RCPD officer at teenager ‘justified’

The Pennington County State’s Attorney hasn’t charged the 15-year-old yet.
Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 3:04 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - After reviewing and investigating the incident, the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation said a shooting involving a Rapid City police officer and a 15-year-old is “justified.”

The morning of the Christmas day shooting, Rapid City Police told KOTA Territory News that a routine traffic stop at the intersection of Milwaukee and Jackson Streets ended with an officer firing shots at a teen armed with a shotgun who tried to flee.

According to the DCI report, five passengers were in a white 2015 Nissan Sentra when it was pulled over: three females and two males. One passenger said when she was picked up, the two boys had been drinking and smelled like alcohol.

One of the passengers fled the car. The officer then instructed the passengers to “stay in the vehicle” and to “get in there,” the DCI confirmed this with the officer’s body camera. But witnesses say another passenger, the 15-year-old, cocked the shotgun before getting out of the car. The teen had a bottle of Bombay Gin in his left hand and the 12-gauge in his right, pointing the shotgun at the officer.

In response, the RCPD officer fired seven rounds. One bullet hit the teen in the throat. After life-saving measures were conducted on the teenager, he was later transported to Monument Health and then Denver Children’s Hospital for treatment.

The DCI confirmed that the teenager had a blood alcohol content of .158. He was also under the influence of methamphetamine, Amphetamine and Cannabinoid.

In the 15-year-old’s shoulder bag, RCPD officers found 17 unspent 12-gauge rounds, two 9mm pistol magazines (one was loaded with 10 live 9mm rounds) and a nylon holster. The bag also had a jeweler’s bag and a small glass vial containing meth and a small prescription bottle holding cannabis. The teen also had a pipe.

“This is yet another example of violent crime involving a deadly weapon and illegal drugs, Rapid City Police Chief Don Hedrick said in a press release. “I am extremely thankful our officer wasn’t hurt or killed after being challenged by an armed subject. It was shocking to learn the suspect had racked ammunition into the shotgun just prior to exiting the vehicle.”

The Pennington County State’s Attorney hasn’t charged the 15-year-old yet.

Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Daniel Haggar reviewed the Christmas Day officer-involved shooting and said the officer acted correctly.

“After considering the facts and circumstances of the incident, it is my conclusion that the officer-involved acted in an objectively reasonable manner and that the shooting was justified,” Haggar said.

The DCI was assisted by the Rapid City Police Department, the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office and the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

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