Count the Lakota People’s Law Project as one of the organizations unsurprised that a Rapid City police officer was exonerated in the killing of a Indian man in Rapid City last month.
30 year-old Native American man Allen Locke was shot and killed by Rapid City police officer Anthony Meirose on December 20. Reports released by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation last Friday, January 16, state that the cop’s lethal action was justified.
Without access to the point of view of the victim’s police shootings we are left to acquire knowledge from police reports and witness testimonies alone. Couple this with a growing sense in the public that police are in certain cases more interested in providing rationale for the actions of their officers rather than objective analysis of events and it is little wonder mistrust is growing.
According to the police report, Officer Meirose was called to a local woman’s home at 6:10 PM. The caller said that she needed an intoxicated man removed from her home–the relationship between the two was not specified.
When Meirose arrived at the residence, Locke sat on the floor with a kitchen knife in hand. The man was eventually found to have a .208 blood alcohol level along with THC, amphetamines, and methamphetamines in his system.
The report goes on to describe the victim advancing towards Meirose with his weapon raised. He allegedly told the officer, “It’s a good day to die.” He did not respond to the officer’s commands to drop the knife.
Ultimately, Officer Meirose responded to Locke’s proximity (about 3 to 4 feet) and threat by shooting him five times. Other officers arrived at the scene shortly after to perform CPR while they awaited the arrival of medical services.
Witnesses agree that Locke did, in fact, carry a knife. They heard his chilling last words and were aware of his intoxication. Chase Iron Eyes, Native activist and Lakota People’s Law Project attorney, says that the witnesses he spoke to did not recall Locke raising the knife above his head, though. Iron Eyes also said he is unsurprised by the state’s unfaltering loyalty towards officer testimony.
In a time of widespread distrust toward weapon-yielding law enforcement, Officer Meirose’s actions do not stand as a a shock. Society is partaking in a much needed stream of dialogue regarding the role of deadly weapons in spheres of public safety. Just a day prior to his death, Allen Locke attended a demonstration in protest of police violence towards Natives.
“Justified” or not, this kind of loss is an indescribable tragedy. The Lakota People’s Law Project sends our condolences to Allen Locke’s loved ones. We hope to see a day when reports of police killings are no longer unspectacular facets of the daily news.
We support reforms in police training and a more positive interaction between police departments in minority communities. The Lakota People’s Law Project is currently working on a comprehensive report that looks at the relationship between the Indian community and the criminal justice system.