'He guaranteed' I would die; Minnesota man racks up charges in three SD counties during Sturgis trip

Mitchell Merchant was recently released from a Minnesota jail, and currently has charges pending in three South Dakota counties.

Brule County Courthouse

CHAMBERLAIN — A Minnesota man has charges pending in three separate South Dakota counties for various crimes he is accused of committing during a Sturgis trip, including allegedly making comments that "guaranteed" he would kill a police officer.

Mitchell Merchant, 29, of Zimmerman, Minn., is charged in Lyman County with driving under the influence, driving with a cancelled license and no motorcycle endorsement; in Brule County with simple assault against a law enforcement officer, obstructing an officer and threats against law enforcement officer or family and in Meade County with domestic assault.

Court documents say that on Monday, Aug. 9, police were called to the Econolodge Hotel in Oacoma for a report of a disorderly male. A male on a motorcycle, later identified as Merchant, left the property after seeing police arrive. A male in the hotel lobby told authorities that Merchant was intoxicated and had tried starting a fight with him in the parking lot.

A female standing nearby was identified as the girlfriend of Merchant, and told police that she and Merchant were on their way home to Minnesota after he had assaulted her by punching her in the face while in Sturgis. She said that she was scared of him, and didn't to want to be near him for the night. An affidavit says the woman's nose was visibly swollen and discolored, and she had a cut on her lip.

After police had hotel staff issue new key cards for the woman's room, they searched the area, but could not find Merchant. They instead parked in a nearby lot and waited for Merchant to return.


Later, police say they witnessed Merchant return on his motorcycle, and caught up with him attempting to gain access to a hotel room with his key card, which had been deactivated by hotel staff.

An affidavit says a strong odor of alcohol came from Merchant's breath, and that he stumbled while walking and fell into a stairwell. He allegedly admitted he had drank "a lot," and admitted to the assault in Sturgis.

Police placed Merchant under arrest and transported him to the jail in Chamberlain. During booking, a breath test registered a .188% blood alcohol content for Merchant. An affidavit alleges that Merchant said he was going to kill a sergeant multiple times.

"He guaranteed to me that I was going to die. He specifically stated that he was going to slit my throat," the sergeant wrote.

Authorities say that Merchant intentionally kicked the sergeant in the side of the knee and, when handcuffs were later removed, attempted to fight the sergeant and another deputy. The affidavit alleges that Merchant intentionally headbutted the sergeant and had to be tased to be placed under control.

Merchant has a history of convictions in Minnesota, including multiple convictions for refusal to submit to a breath test, multiple no contact order violations, multiple drivers license violations and multiple assault charges against individuals and law enforcement officers.

Minnesota criminal records show he was recently released from the Mille Lacs County Jail and is currently on probation.

Merchant's next court appearance in Brule County is set for Aug. 18, with court dates undetermined in Lyman and Meade County.

A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021 and now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on regional news that impacts the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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