FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, March 7,2023
CONTACT: Tony Mangan, Communications Director, 605-773-6878
PIERRE, S.D. -- South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley has announced that a Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) review has determined that a Rapid City Police officer was justified in the shooting death of a man during a hostage situation on Feb. 3, 2023.
“This was a fast-moving, tense situation where the suspect presented a clear and present danger to the public and the officer,” said Attorney General Jackley. “Only when the suspect ran at the officer with a knife in hand, did the officer fire their weapon.”
The incident began when the officer responded to a reported armed robbery in progress at a Rapid City business. When the officer arrived, they encountered Erik James Wright outside of the business holding a clerk at knife point.
Wright separated himself from the hostage but refused the officer’s commands to drop the knife. Wright ran towards the officer with two knives in his possession and was shot multiple times by the officer. Police officers rendered medical aid to Wright who was transported to a Rapid City hospital where he later died.
Video and audio recordings, interviews of officers and witnesses, and examination of evidence by the South Dakota Forensic Laboratory corroborated the findings of DCI investigators and the officer’s account that they faced a clear and present danger and that there was danger to the public and police. Wright had alcohol in his system and was on parole after being released from prison in January, 2023.
The Attorney General and the Division of Criminal Investigation would like to thank the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, the Custer County Sheriff’s Office, the South Dakota Highway Patrol, and the South Dakota Forensic Laboratory their assistance. The Rapid City Police Department cooperated with the investigation.
The summary of the incident can be found here.