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Woman shot by police taken to jail after bond violation

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A woman facing charges after being shot by Rapid City Police in May was taken into custody during a Monday court hearing for testing positive for methamphetamine and THC, violating her bond condition.

Shania Watkins, 32, was shot multiple times by police on May 31 after a failed traffic stop and police pursuit through Rapid City. According to police and the South Dakota Department of Criminal Investigation, Watkins drove her car towards a police officer, who shot Watkins as she did so. The state alleges that Watkins had methamphetamine and THC in her system during the incident. 

She faces two felony charges of aggravated eluding, one felony count of aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer, a felony count of unauthorized ingestion of a controlled substance, and a misdemeanor count of ingesting an intoxicant other than alcohol.

As a condition of her bond, the court required that Watkins participate in the 24/7 program, which provides periodic drug and alcohol testing. Because Watkins is confined to a wheelchair due to her injuries and has no use of the lower half of her body, she was issued a patch rather than physically going in for testing. 

A 24/7 program violation form dated Nov. 16 states that Watkins' drug patch came back positive for methamphetamine and THC, the intoxicant in marijuana. Watkins said she's six months sober and hasn't touched meth. 

An email from a 24/7 coordinator states the violation is Watkins' third, "however, every time she has been taken into custody for a sanction, the jail refused her."

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Her lawyer, Evan Hoel, said in court Monday that Watkins is paralyzed for life because of the gunshots and the jail is unable to accommodate her disability.

Assistant Attorney General Scott Roetzel, who is prosecuting the case, said that Watkins is "clearly gonna keep using meth" and he's at a loss for how to stop her if she's out of custody. 

Circuit Judge Joshua Hendrickson said he spoke with the jail and "they're going to make it work." He said he would like there to be other options for Watkins to prevent her from continuing to use and would like to hear from both the state and Watkins' defense attorney at her next hearing. 

She is scheduled to appear in court at 3:15 p.m. Dec. 15 for a bond argument hearing and at 3:15 p.m. Jan. 23 for a status hearing. 

Hendrickson also said on Monday he expects the state and Watkins' defense to communicate better regarding evidence discovery in the case. Hoel filed a Nov. 16 motion asking the state to immediately serve all copies of affidavits, police reports, audio recordings, video footage and all other documents entitled to the defense. 

Roetzel said the state is providing discovery and his assistant re-sent everything on Oct. 20. He noted there was an issue with technology at some point and it "appears to be an IT problem, not an Attorney General problem."

Hendrickson denied the defense's motion, stating that the two sides need to get together and ensure all evidence has been shared.

— Contact Shalom Baer Gee at sgee@rapidcityjournal.com — 

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