The South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation says a Christmas Day shooting of an armed 15-year old boy by a Rapid City police officer was “justified.”
No charges have yet been filed against the teen, who was seriously wounded and whose name has not been released.
Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Daniel Haggar was asked by the DCI to review the investigation into the shooting and concluded the officer acted in “an objectively reasonable manner” and the shooting was justified.
Authorities say the shooting occurred during a routine traffic stop in Rapid City of a vehicle with 5 occupants, 3 females and 2 males. One passenger fled on foot before the 15-year old got out with a 12-gauge shotgun in one hand and a bottle of liquor.
He ignored commands to put down the gun and instead pointed it at the officer, who then fired 7 rounds – hitting the teen once in the throat. He received life-saving aid at the scene before being treated first at a Rapid City hospital, then one in Denver.
A witness said the teen had cocked his gim before getting out, while investigators found his shoulder bag had 12 shotgun shells, a pair of magazines for a 9mm pistol, and small amounts of methamphetamine and marijuana. His blood-alcohol level was .158, nearly twice the legal limit for an adult.
Rapid City Police Chief Don Hedrick calls the incident “yet another example of violent crime involving a deadly weapon and illegal drugs,” adding that it was “shocking” to learn the teen had chambered a round before exiting the vehicle.