ROSEBUD, S.D. (KELO) — It’s been more than six years since 22-year-old Raymond Gassman was killed by police and his family is still seeking justice.
In February of 2016, Raymond was staying at a house in Rosebud, South Dakota. Just a few months before he had left a halfway house in Rapid City after being convicted on federal robbery charges. On that early February morning, police were there to arrest Raymond on vandalism charges.
“There was a knock on the door and our little bro opened the door,” Jeremy Lofton recalled.
Lofton, a friend of Raymond’s, was also staying in the home at the time of Raymond’s death. He said that morning, he heard a police officer trying to wake Raymond up, telling him he needed to get up.
“Then I heard struggling, Raymond was trying to get away, just trying to break free and everything,” Lofton said. “Raymond said ‘Don’t shoot.’”
According to law enforcement, Raymond tried to escape the house and an officer was wrestling with him when the shots were fired. The officer was also shot during the struggle. Lofton said immediately following the shooting, federal officers arrived on scene.
“I heard one fed say, ‘He’s dead,’” Lofton said.
The case was turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). KELOLAND News has reached out to the FBI on Raymond’s case but have not yet heard back on whether the investigation is still open.
Raymond’s mother, Mary Ann Night Pipe, said after her son’s death, she tried to request police reports to learn more about what happened that day but was denied.
“We don’t have any answers, we went through the chain of command. They told us to go to judiciary council and so we went to the first judicial committee and represented ourselves,” Night Pipe said.
Raymond’s death has been hard on his family, especially his older sister Emily Gassman who said she and her brother were very close.
“One of the last times I seen him, like not too long before it happened, he just kept telling me, you know, ‘I love you sis, I love you’ probably like five times. So, I’m grateful for that,” Emily said.
Following his death, Emily was angry about what happened and couldn’t believe it. She felt the death of her brother was wrong and wishes she had answers and understanding.
“I don’t think people understand how hard it is to have someone shot by the cops,” Emily said. “There’s people who are like, ‘Oh, you know, they shouldn’t be doing this or that’ and it’s like, they just will never understand and even some of them lack the compassion that we just lost somebody.”
In 2016 following the shooting, KELOLAND News spoke with Raymond’s family about his death. They said that while many people might focus on the choices he made, he was more than that.
“He was an innocent child who made a few bad choices and wrong mistakes,” Annie Gassman told KELOLAND News in 2016. “But did he have to pay with his life?”
Night Pipe wants justice for her son who she said was a good young man.
“We live on a reservation, it’s hard here for our young men but he had a good heart. And he cared for a lot of people and had a big family and we miss him,” Night Pipe said.