Oglala Sioux leader charged with driving drunk, threatening

PINE RIDGE, S.D. (AP) — The president of the Oglala Sioux is accused of driving drunk on the tribe’s reservation, which is the only one in South Dakota that bans alcohol.

Tribal Attorney General Scott James on Tuesday charged Julian Bear Runner with driving while intoxicated and threatening a man in Manderson last weekend.

Bear Runner, 34, issued a statement Sunday acknowledging his arrest Saturday and saying he was entitled to due process, but he didn’t provide details of the arrest. He did not immediately return a call Wednesday seeking comment.

Bear Runner, who was elected tribal president in November 2018, campaigned in favor of the alcohol ban on the Pine Ridge reservation. He talked about a need to prevent drugs and alcohol from reaching the reservation, and advocated for harsher punishments and better treatment for users.

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Bear Runner had a blood alcohol content of 0.10% when a tribal officer administered a field sobriety test, according to the criminal complaint.

He also “did display elements of intoxication” when he came into contact with an officer from the tribe’s Department of Public Safety, the complaint states. He allegedly had “slurred speech, glossy and blood-shot eyes, smelled like alcohol and had trouble walking,” the Rapid City Journal reported.

Bear Runner also is accused of telling a man that he planned to assault him, although it’s not clear who was the target of the alleged threat.

He was expected to enter a plea during an arraignment in early June, said James. If convicted, he faces up to six months in jail on each charge, but first-offense DWI charges like Bear Runner’s typically result in probation.

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