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Man shot by police tests positive for COVID-19; no other details released
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Man shot by police tests positive for COVID-19; no other details released

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Officers from the Rapid City Police and Pennington County Sheriff's departments surround the scene of an officer-involved shooting in east Rapid City last week. 

State and local law enforcement agencies say they won’t share basic facts about a Rapid City traffic stop that ended with an officer killing a man who allegedly fired at police until the investigating agency releases its report in about 30 days.

A Rapid City police officer shot Anthony Angel, 30, after Angel allegedly shot and tried to kill officers soon after they conducted a traffic stop on May 13, Police Chief Karl Jegeris said at a news conference at the scene near East Saint Patrick Street and East Highway 44.

Angel, who was in a vehicle with two other people, hit a patrol vehicle but not any officers, Jegeris said. Angel died the next morning at the hospital, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

The shooting is being investigated by the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) which falls under the Attorney General’s Office. Once DCI finishes its report, Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg will determine whether the shooting was justified or not.

Angel tested positive for COVID-19 but none of the Rapid City officers and DCI agents who came into contact with him did, Tim Bormann, spokesman for the Attorney General's Office, said in a Monday news release. 

The officers and agents will follow agency and CDC guidelines regarding possible quarantines, monitoring and future testing since virus detection can occur at a late time, the news release says. The release does not mention if medical first responders and hospital staff were tested.

Bormann told the Journal that he doesn’t know how many officers and agents were tested and whether Angel tested positive before the incident or after he died.

While Bormann voluntarily shared the COVID-19 information with the media, he said the office won't be answering any questions until the DCI report is released. 

The Journal asked where Angel was sitting in the vehicle and whether the vehicle was pulled over for an alleged traffic violation or because someone in the car was a suspect in a crime. It asked what kind of weapon Angel allegedly used and if it's one of the seven firearms missing after back-to-back pawn shop robberies last month. And the Journal asked the names of the officers who Angel allegedly shot at and which officer hit him.

Bormann said he can't share if the two other people in the car were released or have been arrested. Mark Vargo, Pennington County State’s Attorney, said the people have not been charged in relation to the incident but that may change after he reviews the DCI report.

Brendyn Medina, spokesman for the Rapid City Police Department, said he doesn’t know the answers to the Journal’s questions and he can’t look into them since DCI is doing the investigation.

Info varies

In some previous police shootings, law enforcement agencies have immediately and voluntarily shared some of the facts the Journal asked about the May 13 shooting.

For example, the Rapid City Police Department shared a detailed news release the morning after an officer fatally shot a man who went on a fatal gun rampage at an apartment in December. That release shared why police arrived at the scene, the name of the officer who shot the gunman, the type of weapon the man used, and a basic narrative of the incident.

And after a deputy with the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office fatally shot a man who fired at officers during a pursuit in November 2018, the office shared on Facebook the type of weapon the man used and how the pursuit began.

The Sheriff’s Office did not share the deputy’s name after the deputy cited Marsy’s Law, a controversial victims’ rights amendment that voters added to the South Dakota constitution in 2016. The deputy’s name was eventually released by the DCI in its report.

However a Highway Patrol trooper’s identity remained shielded in an October 2018 DCI report even though her identity was listed in public court records.

The difference in if and when agencies release names appears to depend on if — and for how long — law enforcement officers invoke Marsy’s Law.

The discrepancy in what other information is immediately shared appears to be based on the fact that South Dakota has no laws dictating how police shootings are investigated and what — and when — information must be shared. Therefore, as long as they follow the state's general public records laws, the DCI and local agencies can chose what information to release and when they do so.

While there are no laws that say how these shootings must be investigated, the protocol since at least 1991 has been for the DCI to investigate and release a report within 30 days, experts told the Argus Leader in a June 2019 story.

— Contact Arielle Zionts at arielle.zionts@rapidcityjournal.com

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