Allen Locke, 30, became the latest victim of a police killing Saturday — just one day after the Rapid City, South Dakota, man attended a demonstration in that city to protest police violence against Native Americans. But police in the city say the timing of the police killing is merely an unfortunate coincidence, and the officer who shot Locke was defending himself.
Rapid City Police Officer Anthony Meirose responded to call about an “unwanted” person at 541 Pahasapa Drive in Rapid City, at about 6 pm on Saturday evening. From what police could later determine, the 30-year-old Locke had some kind of relationship with the occupants of the home, but police would not reveal the exact nature of that relationship.
When Meirose showed up to get Locke out of the house, he had not even entered the house when Locke attacked him while the officer was in the doorway, according to the police. Locke did not have a gun, but was armed with a knife, police say.
The whole incident happened so fast that Meirose did not have time to deploy a non-lethal weapon such as a taser, according to Rapid City police spokesperson Captain Dan Rud, a claim that was met with skepticism by local tribal leaders.
Meirose fired his service weapon at Locke, pumping multiple bullets into the Native American man. Locke died shortly after at Rapid City Regional Hospital.
Rud dismissed the idea that there was any connection between the anti-police violence rally on Friday — a rally that Locke’s family says he attended — and the police killing of Locke just one day later.
“That’s always a concern. But bear in mind that the rally on Friday was a, people were doing a rally, it was peaceful, they were exercising their First Amendment right,” said the Rapid City police captain. “And this happening the next day, we have no control over that. Mr. Locke made that decision. For whatever reason, he made that decision to attack a police officer, which forced that officer to protect himself.”
But members of Rapid City’s Native American community say that unanswered questions remain about Locke’s death, and the poor relations between Native Americans in Rapid City and the city’s police force make the shooting of Allen Locke a volatile issue.
“There is no trust with the police department,” said Melanie Stoneman, a tribe member from Rosebud Reservation there, who now lives in Rapid City. “That’s not something that was established last night. That’s something that’s been established, been going on for many, many years, and it’s something that’s going to take a long time to build.”
The police shooting of Allen Locke just a day after he took part in a rally against police violence is being investigated by both the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation and the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office. The deceased man’s family was scheduled on Monday to meet with Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker and Police Chief Karl Jegeris to hear the city’s side of the story behind the killing.