Nearly one month after a high speed chase put a state trooper in the hospital, the incident has been cleared by the South Dakota Attorney General.
The report released Tuesday shows that State Trooper Andrew Steen and Lincoln County Deputies Aaron Bartscher and Tom Krull were justified in firing their weapons and using lethal force on the October 17th pursuit of suspect Rachel Coleman.
The report shows the pursuit reached speeds of 80 to 90 miles per hour in the city limits of Sioux Falls. The report also noted that Coleman's car struck Trooper Steen, forcing him onto the hood of the car as she continued to drive.
Together the three officers fired a total of 23 rounds, hitting Coleman at least three times. Coleman spent several days in the hospital, but is now in custody at Minnehaha County Jail.
The crime scene investigation conducted by the South Dakota division of criminal investigations is consistent with statements made by officers at the scene.
Coleman is charged with Attempted First Degree Murder, Aggravated Assault against a Law Enforcement Officer, hit and Run Accident Resulting in Death or Injury and Aggravated Eluding in Lincoln County. It was also Coleman's Fourth DWI incident.
Trooper Steen suffered life threatening injuries during the incident; he is still recovering.
Steen's friends and family said they have never doubted his actions on that night, but are relieved to hear the incident is officially justified.
"It's huge I mean, it's a huge relief knowing that everything has been justified, everything that Andrew did everything that the other officers involved did was justified, it's just a huge release," said Steen's close friend Holly Stauffacher.
The details of the report, including the details of the chase and the number of shots fired showed Steen's friends and family just how serious the incident was.
"It means they were fighting for their lives and they were doing what they needed to do to stop somebody who was trying to hurt them; its unfortunate that it took that, but they were right and they were doing what they needed to do to protect all of us and themselves," said Stauffacher.
Josh Frank works in the bridges complex and saw the aftermath of the shooting and the work investigators put into the crime scene.
"It was pretty crazy, I've never seen anything like it," said Josh Frank.
Frank appreciates the officers protecting the city and his office and hopes Steen's family is proud of the work Steen did for the Sioux Falls community.
"I guarantee you they are proud of him and what he did, it's just kind of a bad deal you know what happened to him and all that, but I know they're going to be proud of him for what he did he was doing his job," said Frank.
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