Formal DWI Charge Filed Against OST President


PINE RIDGE, S.D. (AP) – We now know the charges that led to the arrest of Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner by a tribal police officer early Saturday morning in Manderson on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

OST Attorney General Scott James says in a formal criminal complaint issued Tuesday that the 34-year old Bear Runner is charged with 1st offense Driving While Intoxicated and Verbal Assault.

The tribe has two laws against drunk driving – Driving Under the Influence for a blood-alcohol content of .05 to .08 and Driving While Intoxicated for a BAC of over .08. The complaint against Bear Runner lists his BAC from a portable breath test administered by the arresting officer at .107.

Bear Runner, in the final year of his term, was held in custody in the OST jail until posting bond on Sunday. He acknowledged his arrest in a written statement Sunday that said he has the same due process rights through the courts as any other tribal member.

In the complaint, the officer says Bear Runner appeared intoxicated as he had “slurred speech, glossy and blood-shot eyes, smelled like alcohol and had trouble walking” after being stopped with a passenger about 3 AM.

No details are given about the Verbal Assault charge other than he allegedly told an undisclosed man he was going to assault him.

James says Bear Runner is expected to enter a plea during an arraignment in early June. If convicted, he could get up to six months in jail on each charge, but James says 1st-offense DWI usually results in probation.

The Oglala Sioux is the only tribe in South Dakota to ban alcohol from its reservation and during his campaign for president in 2018 Bear Runner supported the ban and called for harsher sentences for drug and alcohol users. He’s continued to speak out against drugs and alcohol as president