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Two Rapid City Police officers justified in March shooting that killed burglary suspect

In total, Officer One fired four shots, while Officer Two fired 11 shots. Of the 15 shots, six struck Peoples, Jr., who was later determined to be under the influence of methamphetamine and alcohol.

Rapid City (1).jpg
Rapid City.
Mitchell Republic file photo
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RAPID CITY — Two Rapid City Police officers were justified to use deadly force in a March shooting that left a burglary suspect dead, the Attorney General’s Office announced in a report issued Wednesday afternoon.

On March 26, 2022, a Rapid City resident, who was out-of-state for a period, had observed evidence that his home had been broken into. When he entered, he became suspicious that his home was still occupied, and reported it to police.

Upon receiving the report, five officers with the Rapid City Police Department were dispatched to the home in the 700 block of James Warren Drive. A sixth officer, who is a certified K9 handler, later arrived. Police were informed that the homeowner believed someone was upstairs.

Officers announced their presence and entered the residence through an open doorway on the ground level while giving commands for any occupants to make themselves known. As they swept the home, officers say they could hear movement coming from upstairs. Once the K9 arrived, they continued to make their way upstairs.

Police described hearing footsteps and music coming from above. An officer identified as Officer One announced the presence of a police K9 and warned it would be deployed. He described seeing a shotgun resting against a doorway at the top of the stairs.

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According to the report, the intruder did not comply or acknowledge the officer’s commands. Officer One deployed a K9, which indicated the suspect inside a specific room. Using his foot, Officer One pushed open the door.

As the door swung open, the officers say they saw an armed subject, later identified as Barney Peoples Jr., seated on the floor, a few feet inside the doorway, with his back up against the bed and a scoped rifle already pointed at Officer One. Peoples, Jr., told the officers to “hold it right there.”

Officer One moved to a position of cover beside the doorway as all responding officers commanded Peoples, Jr., to put the gun down. An officer identified as Officer Two became exposed as a result of Officer One moving for cover.

Rapid City Shooting.PNG
A mapping of an officer-involved shooting in Rapid City on March 26, 2022.
Graphic courtesy of the Office of the South Dakota Attorney General

Peoples, Jr., allegedly redirected his aim of the rifle toward Officer Two who subsequently discharged their firearm. As Peoples, Jr., continued to point his weapon, Officer One discharged his firearm multiple times. Peoples, Jr., was struck by multiple bullets, incapacitating him. He died at the scene.

In total, Officer One fired four shots, while Officer Two fired 11 shots. Of the 15 shots, six struck Peoples, Jr., who was later determined to be under the influence of methamphetamine and alcohol.

An investigation conducted by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation found multiple firearms and ammunition located in the upper level of the residence, staged in different locations around the master bedroom. A semi-automatic .22-caliber scoped rifle that Peoples, Jr., had in his possession during the shooting incident was recovered and found to contain 18 .22-caliber rounds with one round chambered inside the weapon.

According to the report, five officers and the homeowner were interviewed by investigators. All of their statements were in-line with one another and corroborated by the officers’ body-worn cameras.

With Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg suspended from office pending an impeachment trial, Chief Deputy Attorney General Charles McGuigan opined that Officer One and Officer Two were threatened with deadly force and were justified in their use of deadly force in the case.

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The DCI is currently investigating one other officer-involved shooting, which occurred in Sioux Falls on March 31.

The shooting in Rapid City was the 16th officer-involved shooting in South Dakota since 2018. All have been found to be justified.

Related Topics: SHOOTINGS
Dunteman covers general and breaking news as well as crime in the Mitchell Republic's 17-county coverage area. He grew up in Harrisburg, and has lived in South Dakota for over 20 years. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 after earning his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He can be reached at HDunteman@MitchellRepublic.com, or on Twitter @HRDunt.
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