RAPID CITY - A Rapid City police officer was justified in shooting and killing a knife-wielding man who was threatening to kill him, the state attorney general has concluded.
The shooting occurred Oct. 19 at a home at 711 East Boulevard, between Quincy and Kansas City streets.
Officer Richard Holt, a nine-year police department veteran, had responded to a call that Donald Ange, 33, was "intoxicated at that location and throwing stuff around and threatening his girlfriend," according to a report issued late Friday afternoon by South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long.
The South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation and the Pennington County Sheriff's Department investigated the shooting because outside agencies always investigate police shootings.
Ange was holding a large kitchen knife when Holt arrived. The attorney general's report concluded that Ange likely "had decided he was either going to kill the officer or be killed in the process."
"It was an unfortunate situation," Rapid City Police Chief Craig Tieszen said Friday. "The officer acted in defense of his life."
The Journal was unable to contact Ange's girlfriend, Kim Sue Chiu, Friday evening, who witnessed the shooting, but her longtime friend, Hazel Bonner of Rapid City, told the Journal that Chiu disputed police reports of the incident.
Bonner sent the Journal a copy of a written statement she said Chiu gave to investigators Oct. 31. In it, Chiu asserts that two officers, not one, responded to the call. She has also said the shooting wasn't necessary.
Long said last week that investigators did receive a three-page affidavit from Chiu, which delayed the release of Friday's report. Investigators say a second officer arrived only after the shooting, and they also stand by their conclusion.
Tieszen said Friday, "I think she was under a great deal of stress and obviously had just lost someone she cared about."
Bonner said Chiu continues to insist that Ange never intended to harm her. "Kim Sue wants it to be known that Donald Ange never threatened her or her children - ever. He never did anything but attack his own property."
Bonner also said Chiu simply wanted police to take Ange to the detox center in Rapid City.
Investigators interviewed Chiu four times, and they interviewed children at the scene and neighbors. From those interviews, they created a detailed narrative of what happened that Sunday afternoon and evening. The following account is taken mostly from that report but also includes parts of Chiu's written statement, provided to the Journal by Bonner:
Ange and his brother arrived at the East Boulevard home in the middle of the afternoon. "Both had been consuming alcohol," the attorney general's report said.
Chiu was at work. A neighbor was baby-sitting her three children, ages 7, 10 and 12.
Chiu arrived home about 5:45 p.m., and soon after, she and Ange began arguing. Ange began throwing things around the apartment.
Then, he grabbed an 11-inch kitchen knife and started "stabbing the TV and other objects in the house," the investigators reported. (Part of the tip of the knife was later found in the television.)
Chiu sent her children to the neighbor's house, telling them to call 911.
Holt responded, and, according to an earlier police report, arrived at the home about 6:30 p.m.
Ange, who apparently knew the patrol car had arrived, told Chiu that police "were not going to take him out alive."
After Holt got out of his patrol car, the neighbor who had called 911 warned Holt to "be careful," that Ange was "very dangerous" and had a knife.
Holt could hear a man and woman shouting inside the house, so he called for backup.
As Holt neared the front door, he heard the woman yell, "No, no, no, no!" Holt extended his collapsible baton and entered.
Ange and Chiu were inside, struggling, investigators say. Ange was holding her by the shoulders, the knife in his right hand.
In Chiu's statement to the police, however, she wrote, "I was not held at knifepoint screaming for help."
Ange dropped the knife, the attorney general's report said, and Holt ordered him and Chiu to stay away from it.
Ange then blocked Chiu from picking up the knife and grabbed it himself, yelling at Holt, "I'm going to (expletive) kill you."
Holt backed outside. Ange followed.
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Investigators said that Chiu told them that just before Ange went outside, she warned him, "If you run outside with a knife, the police will probably shoot you."
Ange replied, "I don't care."
Chiu followed Ange outside and approached him.
Holt ordered Ange to "back off" and "put the knife down." At the same time, Chiu was yelling, "Put the knife down!"
Ange continued to move forward toward Holt, the state's report says, again threatening, "I'm going to (expletive) kill you."
Holt dropped his baton, drew his pistol and backed to the rear of his patrol car.
"I'm going to (expletive) kill you," Ange yelled, for the third time. He then started "sprinting" toward Holt, holding the knife over his head, the investigators' report said.
Chiu said Ange was holding the knife at his side, about 12 feet from Holt.
Holt fired his pistol five times. The first round hit the ground; the second round hit Ange's left leg, below the knee. The third round hit Ange's right hip. The fourth and fifth rounds, the report said, hit Ange in the right shoulder and neck.
Ange fell three feet in front of Holt.
Chiu rushed to his side, picked up the knife and tossed it away from Ange.
Ange was rushed to Rapid City Regional Hospital in critical condition. He died at 9:35 p.m. The bullet to his shoulder was the fatal round.
Ange's blood-alcohol level was .213 percent, more than 2-1/2 times the legal limit for driving.
The attorney general's report also noted that Ange had been convicted four times of simple assault - once in 1988 and three times since 1997.
Family members told investigators that Ange had bipolar disorder and that he sometimes did not take his medications.
Chiu has criticized Holt for not shooting Ange in the leg to stop his advance.
Police Chief Tieszen said, "It's unsafe to train for the kind of trick shooting it would take to shoot a weapon out of someone's hand or to shoot to wound."
Officers are trained to fire only when faced with an "imminent threat," Tieszen said. When they do fire, they are supposed to "continue to fire until the threat is stopped."
Tieszen explained why: "It's not easy to react with great precision under extreme stress. The way it happens in TV Westerns is not the way it happens in real life."
Holt did, in fact, shoot Ange in the leg and the hip - "by chance," Tieszen said - but the state's report concluded neither wound would have been enough to stop his advance.
"It's always easy to second-guess the officer," Tieszen said. "This happened very quickly, with a subject with a great deal of determination. The officer did what he had to do."
It was the third fatal shooting by a Rapid City police officer this year.
On March 9, officer Marc Black shot Lucas Ghost Bear outside a Maple Avenue apartment. Police say Ghost Bear lunged at Black with a knife.
On April 18, Rapid City Police Officer Spencer O'Bryan shot Allan F. Liberty after Liberty threatened him with a 9 mm pistol.
The attorney general determined that both officers acted correctly.
Tieszen agreed last month that three fatal shootings by Rapid City Police in one year was unprecedented.
"We've responded to more than 5,000 calls this year," he said Friday, talking about the shootings. "These were very unfortunate."
Contact Bill Harlan at 394-8424 or email@example.com