Self Defense punished in South Dakota

March 1st, 2012

I am a Veterinary Medical Officer with the US Department of Agriculture. My
family has recently relocated to the Black Hills area of South Dakota. A month
ago, a man whom I did not know stopped in front of our home and attacked and
struck me with a deadly weapon, then attempted to attack my 26 yr old visiting
son-in-law. Meade County Sheriff’s department was notified via my wife’s call
to 911. After calling 911 to report the attack, my wife, who has a concealed
weapon permit for SD, saw that the man continued to attack and she retrieved
her .38 revolver and told him to stop and leave our property. He refused and
continued to chase after my son-in-law and myself swinging his weapon (a wooden club). She
fired a single warning shot into the ground in a direction away from all of
us. The man then stopped his aggression and left our property and returned to
his car. The Sheriff Deputies found and questioned this man and recovered the
weapon he used to attack us. However, they refused to arrest him and no
charges have been brought against this man. Unbelieveably, they actually
arrested and charged my wife for her warning shot which scared the attacker
away! We live in a rural area of the County on 19 acres bordering the Black Hills National Forest, and the 911 response time was
several minutes. With four of us as adult witnesses to this attack, and the
fact that it happened on our own property, we are at a complete loss as to
understanding why my wife is charged with a crime, and why this man is not
being charged by the State Attorney. Incredibly, we later learned the Sheriff Deputies did not even take the weapon this man had into evidence, but called him three days later and asked if he would be willing to turn it in to the authorities. We are extremely concerned that this person may be an aquaintance of the authorities here, otherwise we cannot imagine why this person was not even charged with assaulting me, and after weeks of inquiries by our attorney and myself, the State Attorney refuses to speak to us at all. We have secured legal counsel, but we are
concerned as we are new to the area, with respect to how this is being handled
by local law enforcement and the State Attorney. It makes no sense to us or
our attorney, as to just why my wife is the one being charged with a crime. We
are all professionals (my wife is a Registered Nurse and Air Force veteran, my
son-in-law is a firefighter in Washington State). Certainly, none of us have a
criminal record nor any reason to “assault” anyone. Any suggestions you may
have or recommended contacts would be greatly appreciated.


Daryl Burden, DVM
Veterinary Medical Officer
US Dept of Agriculture
Sturgis, SD
[email protected]