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Escape ends with tackle in Mitchell driveway

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News Mitchell,South Dakota 57301
The Daily Republic
Escape ends with tackle in Mitchell driveway
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

An escapee from the state penitentiary was tackled in a Mitchell driveway Wednesday morning after trying to evade police on foot.

Reports of 19-year-old Davis Bull Bear's presence in the city drew a large response from area law enforcement, who established a perimeter and began a yard-to-yard search in the southern part of the city, near Dakota Wesleyan University.


Authorities worried Bull Bear would attempt to break into a house or steal a car in an attempt to evade capture, said Mitchell Public Safety Chief Lyndon Overweg.

"There is always a huge concern that they're going to commit another crime or hurt someone else," Overweg said.

During the pursuit, law enforcement personnel worried Bull Bear may have been armed because he kept a hand in his pants pocket, Overweg said. Bull Bear was later found to be unarmed.

"It appeared he was just trying to hold his pants up," Overweg said.

Bull Bear walked away Tuesday night from Unit C, the minimum-security unit of the Jameson Annex at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls, according to the state Department of Corrections. The DOC issued a news release shortly after 2:45 a.m. Wednesday asking for the public's help in locating him.

At 7:37 a.m., a motorist on Interstate 90 in Hanson County reported seeing a person matching Bull Bear's description walking along a road, according to a news release issued Wednesday afternoon by the Mitchell Department of Public Safety. Responding officers were not able to locate Bull Bear at the time.

Bull Bear was described as an American Indian man with black hair and brown eyes, about 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighing about 140 pounds.

A Davison County sheriff's deputy came into contact with Bull Bear at 8:16 a.m. between the two Interstate 90 exits in Mitchell, the release said. Bull Bear fled on foot toward the area of West Norway Avenue and Thomsen Place, southwest of DWU.

A resident in the 1600 block of Thomsen Place called 911 to report that Bull Bear was hiding in his backyard, the release said. When law enforcement converged on the area, Bull Bear could be seen running north across Norway Avenue and into yards of nearby houses.

Officers caught up with Bull Bear in the 1400 block of Mitchell Boulevard, where he was grabbed from behind by an officer and taken to the ground in a driveway, according to Overweg.

Multiple officers converged on the area, but Bull Bear resisted being handcuffed. He was eventually taken into custody and transported to the Davison County Jail, Overweg said. Bull Bear was back in prison in Sioux Falls by Wednesday afternoon, according to DOC spokesman Michael Winder.

An all-terrain utility vehicle used by the Mitchell Police Division was rolled on its side and damaged in the chase. Bull Bear, while on foot, cut in front of a pursuing officer driving the utility vehicle on Kynette Place, causing the officer to lock up the brakes and roll the vehicle onto its side, Overweg said. The officer was not hurt in the crash and the vehicle sustained only minor damage.

DWU was locked down for approximately 12 minutes during the incident, according to Lori Essig, vice president of university relations. DWU's campus is a few blocks from where Bull Bear was chased and captured.

Few students are left on campus because of the summer break, Essig said, but many staff members had just arrived for work when the school was informed of the situation.

It was the first time DWU's campus has been locked down in Essig's 14 years with the school.

"It's good for us to have the opportunity to test our plans," she said.

The foot pursuit in Mitchell lasted 21 minutes from the sighting to the capture. Police began the process of issuing a public alert, but the capture was made before the alert was sent.

Bull Bear has not yet been charged with a crime in connection with the incident, according to Winder.

Bull Bear is serving a five-year sentence for third-degree burglary out of Bennett County. When Bull Bear was first sentenced on the charge in March, he was granted a suspended imposition of sentence, which means he had the chance to keep the felony off his record by following all the terms of his probation.

Bull Bear was sentenced in June to the five years in prison after violating his probation.