A study of the Rapid City Police Department and the city's Native American community reports that 62.6 percent of the cases in which police used force, that force was carried out against Native Americans. That is a bit higher than the proportion of arrests for which Native Americans account -- 59.1 percent. It also is more than double the proportion of Native Americans the study concludes comprise Rapid City's total population -- roughly 25 percent.
Use of force ranges from the lowest level, a wrist hold, to intermediate levels such as use of a baton, to deadly force involving shooting a gun.
The report found that nearly 20 percent of all use of force cases took place without a primary crime or offense by a suspect/perpetrator. For Native Americans, that figure was 16 percent; for whites, 23.1 percent.
Both whites and Native Americans experienced high rates of use of force for process-related offenses, such as failure to appear in court, and high rates for drug and alcohol offenses, as shown in the chart below. (The category "individual" includes simple assault, mental health holds and disorderly conduct.)
Researchers found that Native American women experienced the highest rate of use of force, as a percentage of all interactions with police. They also found that the severity of a suspect's action did not directly correlate with severe reactions by police officers. In fact, the data shows a moderate negative correlation, meaning that less severe actions by suspects could yield more severe uses of force by police.
"An interesting illustration of this observed trend is that for Native American suspects exhibiting active aggression, physical readiness or deadly force, only 13.9 percent were met with a deadly force display by an RCPD officer. Conversely, 49.1 percent of Native suspects engaged in nonverbal or passive resistance were met with a deadly force display by an RCPD officer. A similar trend was observed for White suspects, though the relationship was more pronounced," reads the report.
Across all race and gender categories, the most frequent suspect action was "Defensive Resistance," meaning suspects actively, physically resisted arrest or other police instructions. That was followed by circumstances qualifying the interaction as "high risk" with the display of a weapon or other complication.
Across all race and gender categories, the most common use of force by police was "Deadly Force Display," the display of a weapon. This was highest for Native American women, for whom more than 54 percent of use-of-force incidents included a display of deadly force. It was lowest for Native American men, at 44.2 percent.
Read the report's complete analysis of use of force by the Rapid City Police Department on pages 14-21.