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Jennifer Sullivan
The Seattle Times

Prosecutors in South Dakota have dismissed the last of several criminal charges filed against a Seattle police detective who shot a member of the Hells Angels motorcycle club during a barroom fight at the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
On Friday, prosecutors in Sturgis dismissed misdemeanor charges of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit against Detective Ron Smith and several other members of the Iron Pigs, a motorcycle club comprised of law-enforcement officers and firefighters.
Smith had also been charged with felony charges of aggravated assault and perjury stemming from the barroom fight and shooting, but those charges had been previously dismissed, said his attorney, Robert Van Norman.
Smith and fellow Seattle police officer Sgt. Dennis McCoy both faced criminal charges following a barroom fight and shooting on Aug. 9 during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Smith shot and wounded a Hells Angels during the fight.
Smith told The Seattle Times shortly after the incident that he had opened fire after Joseph McGuire and other members of the Hells Angels jumped him inside the Loud American Roadhouse. Smith said he may have been targeted by the Hells Angels because he testified in a high-profile federal racketeering and murder trial in Seattle last year that sent several former and current members of the gang to prison.
McGuire, of Imperial Beach, Calif., survived the shooting and was charged with aggravated assault, which can result in a 15-year prison term if he's convicted.
After the shooting, Smith and McCoy were placed on administrative leave by the Seattle Police Department. According to police, both men have recently returned to work.
Seattle police spokesman Sean Whitcomb declined to comment on the department's internal investigation into the Sturgis shooting.
Meade County, S.D., State Attorney Jesse Sondreal said the aggravated-assault charge against Smith was dropped because it appeared that the officer was the victim of a premeditated attack. The perjury charge was dropped after police in South Dakota and Seattle determined that Smith was correct when he said he had used a personal handgun, not a department-issued weapon, in the shooting.
Charges against two other members of the Iron Pigs who were in the bar during the fight also were dropped. U.S. Customs and Border Inspection officers Scott Lazalde, 38, of Bellingham, and James Rector, 44, of Ferndale, Whatcom County, had been charged with carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, Van Norman said.
Van Norman said that a judge in Meade County, S.D., agreed with his argument that the four officers are protected under a federal law that allows off-duty law-enforcement officers to carry weapons anywhere they choose, including a bar. The federal law requires that the weapons handler not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Sondreal had pursued charges against the law-enforcement officers regardless of the federal law.
Erik Pingel, 35, a firefighter from Aurora, Colo., a fellow Iron Pig who was carrying a gun that night, still faces the misdemeanor weapons charge because federal statute does not allow firefighters to carry a weapon inside a bar.
Smith didn't return calls for comment on Monday, but Rich O'Neill, president of the Seattle Police Officer's Guild, said "this is a day of vindication for Detective Smith and Sergeant McCoy."

Story From:The Seattle Times
 
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