Attorney General Jackley, DCI rule highway patrol trooper shooting justified

Division of Criminal Investigation review indicates South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper was justified in shooting a man who fired at the officer in Sturgis.
Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 11:53 AM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. (KOTA) - A Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) review indicates a South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper was justified in shooting a man who fired a gun at the officer on Aug. 9, 2023, in Sturgis. Injuries to the suspect were serious but not life-threatening.

“This was a tense incident where the suspect, who had a criminal background of violent behavior, fired a gun at the Trooper and then tried to flee in the Trooper’s Patrol vehicle,” said Attorney General Jackley. “Evidence collected at the scene, witness statements, and a review of the video compiled from several sources indicate that the Trooper was justified in using lethal force.”

A South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper driving east on Dickson Drive in Sturgis identified Wyatt James Fluty walking southbound on Junction Avenue on Aug. 9. He is suspected of stealing a vehicle in Wyoming on July 27 and being involved in an armed robbery in Pennington County on Aug. 7. On Aug. 8. Fluty had fled from a motorist assist stop conducted by the Highway Patrol that had occurred in rural Meade County.

According to the release by Jackley, after identifying Fluty, the trooper got out of the vehicle, drew their firearm, and verbally engaged Fluty. The suspect fled and ran into a ditch. Following the suspect, the trooper deployed his taser unsuccessfully. Fluty produced a handgun from his waistband and fired at the trooper, who fell to the ground to avoid being shot. Fluty continued to fire at the troopers while they were on the ground.

Fluty accessed the Trooper’s unsecured patrol vehicle through the driver’s side door. An out-of-state, Off-Duty Deputy who witnessed the shooting from a nearby convenience store ran to the Trooper’s assistance. The Trooper and Off-Duty Deputy fired several rounds into the vehicle, striking Fluty.

“In certain police vehicles, there are certain mechanisms and ways to start a vehicle, and he was not aware of that, so he was not able to maneuver that, which then resulted in him taking cover within the police vehicle, but he was not able to move that vehicle,” said Jackley

The two officers ceased fire when Fluty surrendered his weapon. Life-saving measures were initiated on Fluty, and he was transported to Sturgis Hospital. There were no other injuries.

Fluty’s system tested positive for methamphetamine, while the Trooper and Off-Duty Deputy tested negative for alcohol and drugs.

The Attorney General and the Division of Criminal Investigation would like to thank the South Dakota Forensic Laboratory, the Meade County Sheriff’s Office, the Rapid City Police Department, the Sturgis Police Department, and the Meade County State’s Attorney for their assistance. The South Dakota Highway Patrol cooperated with the investigation.

Criminal charges are pending against Fluty, who is presumed innocent under the US Constitution.

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