Re: Seattle Police officer held in Sturgis shooting :: Washington Confederation of Clubs :: Wear your Patch with Pride
By Jennifer Sullivan Seattle Times staff reporter Monday, September 15, 2008 – Story updated at 04:48 PM Prosecutors in South Dakota have dismissed a second felony charge against a Seattle police detective who shot a member of the Hells Angels motorcycle club last month during a bar fight. Meade County State Attorney Jesse Sondreal announced today that an aggravated assault charge against Detective Ron Smith has been dropped. Earlier this month, prosecutors dropped a felony perjury charge against Smith. Smith still faces a misdemeanor charge stemming from the shooting of Joseph McGuire on Aug. 9. Smith said he shot McGuire after McGuire and other members of the Hells Angels jumped him inside the Loud American Roadhouse during the annual Sturgis, S.D., Motorcycle Rally. In addition to the aggravated assault and perjury charges, Smith also was charged with a misdemeanor count of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. “The law enforcement investigation, submitted to this office, establishes that Ron Smith was defending himself from a violent premeditated attack and he responded in a manner which was neither excessive nor unreasonable under the circumstances,” Sondreal said in a news release this afternoon. Sondreal said he “assumes” that Smith was targeted because he belongs to a motorcycle club named the Iron Pigs, which is made up of law enforcement officers and firefighters. Sondreal said the Hells Angels could have also been provoked by the fact that Smith and other Iron Pigs were dressed in vests featuring the Iron Pigs logo. Sondreal said that Smith and other Iron Pigs cooperated fully with authorities and testified before a grand jury impaneled to determine whether charges would be filed in the case. “Mr. McGuire and his group attempted to flee the scene [after the shooting] and wouldn’t cooperate and wouldn’t testify before the grand jury. They all invoked their right to remain to silent,” Sondreal said. McGuire, of Imperial Beach, Calif., was charged with aggravated assault. An aggravated-assault conviction in South Dakota can result in up to 15 years in prison. Smith, 43, couldn’t be reached for a comment today. In addition to Smith, four other members of the Iron Pigs who were with him at the bar face misdemeanor charges. All are charged with carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. A conviction on the misdemeanor could result in up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. They are: Scott Lazalde, 38, of Bellingham; James Rector, 44, of Ferndale, Whatcom County; Erik Pingel, 35, of Aurora, Colo.; and Seattle police Sgt. Dennis McCoy, 49, of Seattle. Lazalde and Rector are longtime members of U.S. Customs and Border Inspection and stationed in Blaine. Pingel is a firefighter. “We’re very happy for the development, especially for Detective Smith.,” Rich O’Neill, president of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild, said today. “We were confident all along that when the evidence was truly analyzed this would be the result.” O’Neill said because Smith is no longer charged with a felony he should be able to return to work. He has been on administrative leave since the shooting. Seattle police spokesman Sean Whitcomb declined to comment today about Smith. Smith was originally charged with perjury after some confusion over whether he used a personal handgun or his department-issued weapon in the shooting. While Smith claimed he used his personal firearm, South Dakota authorities said records obtained from the Seattle Police Department showed that the gun had been issued by the department. That led to the charge of perjury. But Seattle police later discovered that the handgun used in the shooting was purchased by Smith from the Seattle Police Athletic Association in 1996.
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