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Grand Jury rules Midland shooting self-defense

The Haakon County Grand Jury convened Wednesday, September 27, to investigate the August 12 shooting of Harold Lee Cleveland in Midland. After hearing 11 witnesses over the course of several hours, it declined to return an indictment, based upon a finding of justifiable homicide.

The evidence disclosed that the victim, a Rapid City resident, announced in advance that he intended to commit suicide, was headed for Midland, and that others would die, too.

Upon his arrival in Midland, he entered the home of an elderly couple, and used a gun to hold them hostage for approximately one hour. During this time he made it clear his intention was to kill them. The woman managed to make a surreptitious telephone call to her son, who then called 911.

A Pennington County dispatcher confirmed the 911 call by calling the couple's residence and kept a conversation going during the ordeal. The 86-year-old woman was instructed to disguise her responses with "yes" or "no' answers, and to interject mundane comments, pretending an innocuous conversation with the telephone company or a friend.

South Dakota Highway Patrol units and local law enforcement were ordered to respond and deal with the situation.

Before the officers reached their assigned positions from a staging area, the victim abruptly left the residence, at which time the couple's son gained access through a back door and moved his parents to a position of relative safety.

The victim was then observed to re-enter the residence, again before officers were in a position to stop him. An armed confrontation between the victim and the couple's son occurred, which resulted in the victim's death.

Justifiable homicide is a homicide in which a person is defending himself or other persons in the household.

The only apparent motive for the victim's actions appears to be a financial loss suffered by the victim some 15-20 years ago in a fraudulent investment transaction managed by another of the couple's sons, who was not involved in this incident.