STURGIS, S.D. — South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley says he’s concerned about the number of officer-involved shootings in the state after an incident last week in Sturgis.
He was on the scene after a law enforcement officer was involved in a shooting on the southeastern edge of the town. One person was hurt in the shooting, but no officers.
The state division of Criminal Investigation is investigating the latest shooting that occurred during the 83rd Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
Jackley says it’s too often law officers are put in dangerous situations. Based on reports released by the South Dakota Attorney General, the state has had four officer-involved shootings in 2023.
A fifth can be added to the list with the Aug. 9 in Sturgis. The Sturgis Police Department said a shooting happened near the Big D gas station on Junction Avenue and Dickson Drive on the morning of Aug. 9. The state’s Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) and the Attorney General’s office are investigating the incident.
According to investigation reports and news released posted on the AG’s website, officer-involved shootings have increased significantly since 2003. In the past 10 years, there has been more than 50 officer-involved shootings.
From 2003 through 2013, there were at least 20 officer-involved shootings.
There were 13 officer-involved shootings in 2022. In 2003, the state had three officer-involved shootings.
The three officer-involved shootings in 2003 were in Rapid City.
In early January and again last week, Jackley said he believes most of the officer-involved shootings are compounded by drugs.
Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead said in a Sept. 19, 2022, KELOLAND story that drugs were fueling gun violence. “There was a day when some of the drug dealers carried firearms. Well, it’s changed completely now. Drug dealers are carrying firearms and drug users, many of the users of these drugs are willing to arm themselves,” Milstead said in the story.
Reports from two officer involved shootings in 2022 vary in revealing drug connections.
A juvenile was shot on Sept. 19, 2022, in Sioux Falls, roughly 10 days after being placed on an emergency mental health hold for suicidal statements and actions, according to the investigative report. The juvenile had a weapon on Sept. 19, 2022, but did not obey commands to drop it. The juvenile told police, “I want to pop someone in the face and get shot.” The juvenile did not have a criminal record, according to the report.
Shania Watkins was shot multiple times by law officers on May 31, 2022, in Rapid City, after a pursuit by police. A criminal background check of Watkins showed a history of criminal offenses to include, theft, drug offenses, protection order violation, and false impersonation, according to the investigative report. The drug screen results for Watkins in the May 31 incident showed positive for methamphetamine and cannabinoid, according to the report.