Rapid City Officer-Involved Shooting Deemed Justified; Summary Released

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     The South Dakota attorney general’s office has deemed a March 26 officer-involved fatal shooting in Rapid City as justified. 51-year old Barney Peoples Jr was killed when 6 Rapid City police officers responded to a burglary in progress call.

      The Peoples family says there was no need for that level of force to be used and that they’re working on a lawsuit accusing police of violating his civil rights. The names of the officers have not been released.

      According to the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation summary of the case, the resident of the home returned home from an out-of-state trip to discover a burglary in process. 

        When officers kicked in the door to the master bedroom, they found Peoples sitting on the floor with a rifle. The officers said Peoples pointed the gun at one of them and told him to stop.

       They ordered Peoples to drop the rifle, but said he instead pointed it at another officer. Two officers then began firing, getting off 15 rounds with 6 hitting Peoples. He died at the scene.

      The DCI summary concluded the officers “reasonably” used deadly force in a situation that was “tense, uncertain and building” in a location where police could see multiple guns and ammunition in different parts of the room. 

        Peoples’ family and indigenous activists rallied yesterday at a Rapid City park, calling his death part of a continued genocide against indigenous individuals by law enforcement.

        In a rare move, Rapid City Police Chief Don Hedrick showed the family and reporters the officers’ bodycam footage of the shooting, explaining “it’s important to be open and transparent.

      Chief Hedrick said it’s a tragedy when such incidents occur in the community, and he felt the department owed it to the public and the people it serves to have an accurate account of what happened. 

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