The Yankton Sioux Tribe, based in Wagner, South Dakota, is seeking answers as to why one its elders was beaten and tased by South Dakota law enforcement last weekend.
In the early morning hours of Sunday, September 17, 2017, one of the Yanton Sioiux tribal elders, Raymond Cournoyer Sr., was rushing to be at his mother’s side as she was making her journey to the spirit world. Mr. Cournoyer never made it to share her final moments.
Instead, he was stopped by South Dakota Highway patrol officer, Fisher, along with City of Wagner Police Officer, Eli Kuhlman, as soon as he arrived at the Good Samaritan Center. Although Mr. Cournoyer verbally informed officer Fisher of his intentions to see his dying mother, he was only able to take a few steps before Fischer grabbed him from behind and pushed him against the vehicle. By this time officer Eli Kuhlman arrived on the scene where he then grabbed Mr. Cournoyer slammed him to the ground face first and tased him. Both officers then placed him in handcuffs.
Mr. Cournoyer is a 64-year-old Army veteran who has been drug and alcohol free for over 30 years. He is a widely respected member of both Yankton Sioux and Wagner communities. He posed no threat to anyone.
The tribe calls this type of excessive forces was uncalled for. There are available pictures from the Cournoyer family that show the physical aftermath of Officer Kuhlman’s use of force upon Mr. Cournoyer.
“The Business and Claims Committee and tribal public are outraged at this incident. While there are still many unknowns, the pictures speak for themselves. It is unacceptable for anyone, much less an elder, to be deprived of their rights at the hand of law enforcement, and be treated with such force that they are bloodied, bruised and injured,” exclaimed Yankton Sioux Tribal Chairman Robert Flying Hawk. “We do not know if there is room to have a respectful discussion about the incident but we must try.”
“Therefore, we have invited the City of Wagner’s Mayor, City Council, and Chief of Police to meet so that we can exchange information, opinions and ideas on ways our communities can address this incident and move forward. We hope they take us up on the offer,” continues Chairman Flying Hawk.