RAPID CITY, South Dakota — Some Rapid City Native American leaders are upset they were left out of a meeting Monday with Mayor Sam Kooiker over the death of a tribal member who was shot and killed by a Rapid City police officer because he allegedly charged at the officer with a knife.
Allen Locke, 30, was shot several times by Officer Anthony Meirose on Saturday after the officer responded to a call of an unwanted person in the Lakota Community Homes addition. The South Dakota Department of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting.
Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker met with some American Indian leaders Monday to discuss race relations and show his support for Meirose and the Rapid City Police Department. Some members of the Native American community are unhappy with Kooiker's message and say more people should have been included in the discussion.
Kooiker and Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris met with form Oglala Sioux Tribe President Bryan Brewer, Lakota Community Homes manager Fred Eisenbraun, Locke family representative Chase Iron Eyes, and activist Cody Hall. Brewer, Iron Eyes and Hall are not from Rapid City.
Local Native American leaders were wrongly excluded and Kooiker "just made it worse," said Tad Montgomery, chairman of the Sioux addition that sits next to the Lakota Community Homes addition, where the shooting occurred.
"We came here with an open heart and good intentions," Montgomery told the Rapid City Journal.
Kooiker said he's open to more discussion on race relations, but that he wanted to send a firm message Monday that he stands behind the Rapid City Police Department and Meirose. He said it would be wrong to assume that race was a factor in this case.
"I think to do so, hurts the credibility of the overall conversation on race relations in Rapid City," Kooiker told KEVN-TV. "If I came at a police officer with a knife, I would expect the use of lethal force on me."
Karin Eagle told reporters there's confusion and apprehension within the Native American community.
"I don't think that people fully comprehend how scary it is for us right now," Eagle said. "There's a feeling of fear even calling for the simplest matter anymore."
Eagle said her community will ask tribal leaders and others to work toward meaningful dialogue to change attitudes in the city.
Kooiker issued a press release thanking the Locke family for their request for peace during a time of grieving.