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ROSEBUD'S OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTING DEATH RAISES QUESTIONS AMONG FAMILY MEMBERS

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By Gregg-Bear

ROSEBUD—Rosebud police became part of America’s broader picture recently with an officer-involved shooting that left one tribal member dead, and people scratching their heads about what happened.

In the space of six minutes—from the time an officer arrived on scene until additional officers arrived—an alleged unarmed man was shot in the chest and killed.

Raymond Walter Gassman, 23, of Rosebud, reportedly was sleeping when the officer, a recent police academy graduate, entered the fairgrounds home and attempted to place handcuffs on Gassman.

The officer reportedly was handcuffing one wrist, when Gassman suddenly awoke. A fight broke out, according to a police news release issued on Facebook three days later.

Women and children present were screaming for the pair to stop fighting, when Gassman, who appeared to be winning the fight and reportedly had the officer by the throat, suddenly stopped resisting and stepped back.

Witnesses claim the officer, who was highly agitated from the fight, was frantically fumbling for his weapon.

“No, don’t shoot me,” Gassman reportedly said.

According to two witnesses, the officer, after shooting Gassman, turned the weapon on himself.

“He shot himself in the arm,” said a female witness who asked not to be identified.

The police and FBI have declined to answer any questions about the incident, referring all inquiries to the police news release on Facebook.

The news release claims both Gassman and the officer were shot with the officer’s weapon during the struggle.

Attempts to revive Gassman by ambulance EMTs were unsuccessful.

The officer’s wound was not life-threatening. He was transported to Valentine, Neb. by ambulance and placed on administrative leave, according to department policy.

Police had initially responded to a report of vandalism involving Gassman, the news release said.

There is no mention in the news release that Gassman was considered an escaped prisoner from Community Alternatives of the Black Hills, a reentry home where he had been transferred from federal prison. He failed to return to the facility Dec. 23, when he cut off his ankle monitor.

Gassman and Elias James LaPointe, both of Rosebud, had each walked away from the facility a week apart. Gassman secretly returned to the Rosebud Reservation, where he hid out with friends, despite knowing U.S. Marshals were searching for him.

LaPointe, 22, left the facility Dec. 30 to look for a job. He never returned. His whereabouts is not immediately known.

Family and friends of Gassman have held meetings since the shooting, and are demanding that police release more details.

Gassman was convicted in federal court of robbing Paul Mart in Rosebud with another man in 2012 and cutting the cashier’s neck with a sharp instrument. He was sentenced to 46 months in prison. He was housed in Wisconsin until being transferred to Community Alternatives of the Black Hills in July.

One veteran cop at Rosebud Police Department speculated on background that Gassman may have performed some action causing the young officer to fear for his life, like trying to take his weapon. Gassman was facing five additional years in prison if convicted of escape.

LaPointe was convicted in 2014 of assaulting a 19-month-old child near White River, causing substantial injuries. He was sentenced to 33 months in prison.

Gassman was the son of the late Robert Stephen Gassman of Rosebud. He died Dec. 22, 2014.

 

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