Even With No Trial Held, Judge Rules No Jail Time for Man Accused of Spraying Beer on American Indian Children

American Horse School

American Horse School

RAPID CITY – Trace O’Connell, of Philip, South Dakota, will not face jail time if convicted of the misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge he faces for his misconduct at the Rapid City Rush hockey game where he allegedly sprayed beer on the group of 57 students from the American Horse School.

Fourth Circuit Court Magistrate Judge Eric Strawn made this ruling on Thursday, May 28, 2015, at a hearing in Rapid City, South Dakota. Because of the no jail time ruling, O’Connell will not have a jury trial, but will be decided by Strawn, who also will impose a sentence for the crime if he is convicted.

The actual trial is not set to begin until July 22, 2015. A motion hearing is set for July 6, 2015, where a plea can be made by the defense.

The students attended the hockey game at Rushmore Civic Center in Rapid City as an award for their academic achievements.The students were told to “go back to the reservation” and sprayed with beer during the third period of the hockey game. The American Horse School is located in Allen on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Rushmore Civic Center - home of the scene of racial incident involving 57 American Indian children being told to  "go back to reservation."

Rushmore Civic Center – home of the scene of racial incident involving 57 American Indian children being told to “go back to reservation.”

The misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge was the most serious crime that could have been brought by the City Attorney in Rapid City, according to Darrell Shoemaker, communications coordinator for the City of Rapid City.

“The City Attorney brought the severest charge he could that supports the evidence at the city level,” Shoemaker told Native News Online on Friday afternoon. “We realize there those who feel tougher charges should have been brought, such as a hate crime, but that would have to be done at the federal level.”

“My question is: We did not go to trial yet, what makes you come to the conclusion there will be no jail time when you did not hear the children speak?” asks Justin Poor Bear, one of the parent chaperone who accompanied the 57 students to the game on January 24, 2015.

“We have been respectful and quiet, but now we are mad that a judge can make such a ruling without even hearing from our children,” Poor Bear continued to Native News Online.

A call to Magistrate Judge Strawn was not returned to Native News Online by press time.

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