Phillip M. High Bear Sr., a thirty three year old man, was arrested and subsequently beaten by police on September 15th, 2016.High Bear was arrested for public intoxication by CRST police, and placed in their “drunk tank”.
The drunk tank, in this particular facility, is a cell that has cement floors and no mattresses for intoxicated inmates to lay on. Lieutenant Chad Olson, with CRST police, claims he discovered Mr. High Bear in his cell, experiencing respiratory distress. At this point Phillip High Bear was transported to Indian Health Service hospital, which is located in Eagle Butte.
As Ernestine Chasing Hawk with Native Sun News reported:
Paula Mae High Bear mother of Phillip said she was in Sioux Falls when she received a call from a doctor at I.H.S. that she needed to come and identify her son who was brought in unresponsive from the CRST jail and later died.
“He said when they brought him in he was unresponsive. The doctor said he worked and worked on him but was not able to revive him,” she said.
When Paula Mae and other family members went to the funeral home, the funeral director told her to be prepared when she sees him because he has a lot of bruising.
“He was all beat up,” she said tearfully. “They (CRST police) picked on him all the time. They beat him up twice before. He had long beautiful hair and he said, ‘Mom I want to cut my hair so they will stop pulling my hair.’”
She said witnesses came forward and have told her that when police officers arrested Phillip he was maced repeatedly and drug on his stomach. Another witness told her that several people were hollering at police officers to stop.
However Olson denies Phillip was beaten by police officers.
“That is not true,” Olson said. “There is no facts or anything. I know what people are saying and all I can say is, it is not true. It will all come out in the investigation.”
Olson said the case is under investigation by both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs Internal Affairs.
Phillip High Bear Sr. had one son, Phillip High Bear Jr. and a daughter named Sonique High Bear. Both of his parents and children had to live to see their father/son die suspiciously in police custody.
Native Americans are killed by police at a higher frequency per capita than any other group in America. Something about the police department, in particular Lieutenant Chad Olson’s claim that they just “discovered” Mr. High Bear Sr. in that condition.
If the claims made by Paula High Bear have basis in fact, and witnesses to the crime did indeed see officers beat Mr. High Bear Sr., this could very well have been a targeted attack.
What are your thoughts on this case? Do you believe the officer’s claim of just finding Phillip High Bear in that condition?