Sturgis bar site of weekend shooting :: Washington Confederation of Clubs :: Wear your Patch with Pride
Twenty-five witnesses spent seven hours testifying before a Meade County grand jury on Sunday about what they saw during an early Saturday morning shooting at a Sturgis bar involving an off-duty Seattle (Wash.) policeman and a member of the Hells Angels motorcycle club. Meade County State’s Attorney Jesse Sondreal said no arrests have been made and that the investigation may continue until the grand jury convenes again on Wednesday, Aug. 27. The Seattle Police Department confirmed that one of its officers, Ronald Smith, was involved in the shooting during a physical confrontation at the Loud American Roadhouse shortly after 1 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 9. The 43-year-old Smith, a member of the Iron Pigs motorcycle club, was reportedly vacationing at the rally with four fellow officers. The Iron Pigs is a motorcycle club open to law enforcement and firefighters who ride American-made V-Twin bikes, according to the club’s Web site. Sondreal said a grand jury investigation, not a preliminary hearing, was the best way to handle any charges that may result from the shooting. “Given the magnitude, complexity, and number of out-of-state witnesses in this case, this was the only logical venue for the next step in the process,” he said. Smith is a detective who works for the Seattle police Pawn Shop Squad and is a police guild board member. According to a report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Smith was once disciplined for taunting fans at a football game and another time for allegedly threatening to shoot a restaurant manager who had asked him to leave. Smith said he feared for his life before opening fire in the crowded bar, injuring Joseph McGuire, 33, of Imperial Beach, Calif., who police have confirmed as a member of the Hells Angels. Smith said he was forced to open fire after being attacked and pinned to the floor by up to three members of the Hells Angels, according to a report by the Seattle Times. Smith said he was “receiving fists and feet” during the altercation. Seattle police declined to comment Monday on whether it was legal for Smith to have a gun on him in the Loud American Roadhouse, because he was off duty at the time. The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004 would technically allow Smith to have a concealed weapon at any time and would supersede any laws regarding concealed weapons in South Dakota. However, that act would not apply if Smith was intoxicated, which is information that authorities have not released. Smith has denied being intoxicated, according to the Seattle Times report. There also is a clause in the act that mentions disciplinary action disqualifying an officer from carrying a gun, but Seattle police declined to comment on whether Smith’s past disciplinary record would disqualify him. South Dakota Attorney General’s Office spokeswoman Sara Rabern said state authorities do not know yet if Smith would meet the requirements of the safety act. The Post Intelligencer has reported that Seattle police union leaders believe a videotape taken at the scene will exonerate Smith of any wrongdoing in the altercation. ”I think it’s going to be pretty evident that the officer was fearful of his safety and life, and that’s why he had to fire,” Sgt. Rich O’Neill, president of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild, told the newspaper. According to the Associated Press, all five officers were relieved of duty pending an investigation by South Dakota authorities. The Seattle Police Department sent a team of investigators to Sturgis to gather more information on the shooting. Smith was excused by the grand jury and has returned to Washington state, according to the Seattle Times report.
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