Rapid City officer used excessive force against a disrespectful girl, S.D. Supreme Court finds

Capitol News Bureau
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PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A Rapid City police officer who was responding to a report of a drive-by shooting went too far during his investigation, when he pulled a teenaged girl down to a mattress on the floor in a darkened room of an apartment and then handcuffed her, the South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled.

The justices unanimously agreed that Brandon Bassett used excessive force against the juvenile after she told him the messages she had sent to her mother reporting the drive-by shooting were a prank.

The Supreme Court publicly released the decision Thursday. The incident occurred at around 2:14 a.m. on November 16, 2019.

Wrote Justice Scott Myren, “Officer Bassett is 240 pounds and, during the interaction, was in uniform, had a gun, taser, and handcuffs on his person. N.A. is a sixteen-year-old female of average stature. Officer Bassett did not suffer any injuries during the incident. He testified that he decided to detain N.A. and place her in handcuffs because she was preventing him from investigating the alleged drive-by shooting.”

Two other people were in the apartment at the time. One was a younger brother. The other was the girl’s boyfriend. The two police officers had the girl call her mother on speaker phone.

Justice Myren wrote, “She (the mother) said the text messages stated that J.W.B. showed up at the apartment, resulting in a fight involving a gun. N.A.’s mother stated that she then called her son, N.A.’s younger brother, and he informed her that somebody was in the apartment, but he had stayed in his bedroom because he was scared. N.A. interrupted to deny that she had said somebody fired shots. When her mother disputed N.A.’s statement, N.A. yelled at her mother, saying her mother was drunk, and then hung up on her mother. During the conversation, Officer Kimbell escorted N.A.’s boyfriend outside the apartment so that he could call the boyfriend’s parents.”

It was after that exchange that Bassett put the girl in handcuffs and took her, barefoot, outside to the patrol car.

“We do acknowledge that N.A.’s comments and attitude were disrespectful. When added to the everyday stress and danger encountered by a law enforcement officer, such conduct could be frustrating,” Justice Myren wrote. “In this particular situation, N.A.’s comments did not warrant the amount of force Officer Bassett deployed.”

The teenager was determined to be a delinquent. The justices returned the case to Pennington County circuit court for further action, including a determination whether the teenaged girl’s kicks at the officer were justified as self-defense.

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