REPORT: Officer justified in shooting at Mitchell motel
The officer who shot and fatally wounded a woman in an incident Nov. 8 at the Quality Inn in Mitchell feared for his life because she pointed a gun at him, according to a report released Monday by the South Dakota Attorney General's Office.
The officer who shot and fatally wounded a woman in an incident Nov. 8 at the Quality Inn in Mitchell feared for his life because she pointed a gun at him, according to a report released Monday by the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office.
Sgt. Dave Beintema, an officer with the Mitchell Police Division, was justified, the report says, in his use of lethal force when he shot Joy Ann Sherman, a 52-year-old Mitchell resident, after she barricaded herself in her room at the Quality Inn, located at 1221 S. Burr St., and threatened to shoot herself and others. Sherman was shot three times by Beintema, the report says, and died as a result of the injuries. The report says Sherman was shot once in the leg, once in the chest and once in the abdomen.
The South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation conducted an investigation into the incident at the request of the Mitchell Police Division. Mitchell Public Safety Chief Lyndon Overweg told The Daily Republic on Monday he thought the report on the incident stood for itself.
“Any loss of life is truly a tragedy and we take it very seriously,” he said. “We would like to offer our sincere condolences to the Sherman family.”
Beintema was placed on administrative leave immediately after the incident, but returned to work Nov. 21, Overweg said.
“We want to make sure the officer is physically and mentally ready to go back to work,” he said.
The incident began when dispatchers in Mitchell received a call at 4:56 p.m. Nov. 8 from a counselor at Stepping Stones, a residential treatment facility for abusers of drugs or alcohol, the report says. The counselor, who is not named in the report, told dispatchers Sherman was a former resident of the facility who told another counselor over the phone that she was at Quality Inn with a gun. The counselor also told dispatchers Sherman was intoxicated and threatening to hurt herself or others, and that she had stolen the gun, a 9mm handgun, from a residence in Mitchell.
Sherman told one of the counselors “she had a gun to her head, but could not pull the trigger,” and “wanted to hurt herself or other people and was exhausted of the life she was living,” the report says.
Beintema arrived at the scene at 5:02 p.m., along with officers Brian Larson and Cory Hartley. Beintema ordered the evacuation of rooms near where Sherman was staying and ordered the officers to set up a perimeter.
Beintema was able to speak with Sherman twice on the phone. The calls lasted a total of about 15 minutes and were both ended by Sherman. During those calls, Sherman repeated threats to shoot herself or others and refused when Beintema asked her to put down her gun and exit the room.
Beintema requested the activation of the Mitchell Police Division’s Emergency Response Unit at 5:37 p.m. and the unit arrived at the scene at 6:08 p.m. Beintema, positioned in another room across the hall, covered the door to Sherman’s room while members of the unit took positions in a nearby hallway.
A negotiator with the Mitchell Police Division in the hallway attempted to contact Sherman by calling on the phone and yelling through the wall, but Sherman responded by saying she was on the phone with one of the counselors from Stepping Stones.
The counselor, after ending a call with Sherman, told dispatchers at 6:23 p.m. that Sherman still had the gun and was cutting herself, and that she could see the officers outside her room.
“The counselor said that Sherman just laughed and said she is exhausted with her life and was too old to change,” the report says.
At 6:30 p.m., Beintema saw the doorknob begin to move when Sherman started to open the door to her room. He yelled “door, door, door,” to alert the other officers, the report says.
Sherman opened her door about 12 inches and stuck her head out. She looked at Beintema and the two made eye contact, standing less than 8 feet apart, the report says.
Beintema yelled “show me your hands, show me your hands,” but Sherman did not respond, the report says.
Sherman, now positioned in the doorway in full view of Beintema, brought the handgun up and pointed it at Beintema. Beintema, who already had his gun ready, shot Sherman three times. Sherman fell to the floor inside her room.
Paramedics, who had been waiting in the Quality Inn parking lot, responded at 6:31 p.m., and Sherman was taken to Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in Mitchell, and later flown to Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls.
Blood samples taken from Sherman at Avera Queen of Peace Hospital found her blood alcohol content was 0.313. That’s nearly four times the legal limit for driving in South Dakota, which is 0.08.
There were no witnesses, other than Beintema, to confirm Sherman raised her gun before Beintema shot her, but other officers were able to hear the commands Beintema shouted to Sherman before the shots were fired, the report says.
Sherman had an extensive criminal history in several states, the report says.
Sherman had been arrested in South Dakota for drunken driving, fraud, burglary, attempted burglary, disorderly conduct, refusing to leave and being a fugitive from justice, according to the report. Sherman also had criminal records in Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska.
The Sioux Falls Police Department dealt with Sherman eight times between October 2004 and November 2013, during which Sherman made threats to harm herself, suffered injuries by cutting herself and, on one occasion, attempted suicide by jumping off a bridge onto ice, the report says.