Considered on Briefs March 23, 2015,
APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SECOND JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, LINCOLN COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA. THE HONORABLE JOSEPH NEILES, Judge.
MARTY J. JACKLEY, Attorney General; ELLIE J. BAILEY, Assistant Attorney General, Pierre, South Dakota, Attorneys for plaintiff and appellee.
JASON R. ADAMS of Nicholson, Tschetter, Adams & Nicholson Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Attorneys for defendant and appellant.
KERN, Justice. GILBERTSON, Chief Justice, and ZINTER, SEVERSON, and WILBUR, Justices, concur.
[¶1] In the early morning hours of October 17, 2012, Rachel Lee Coleman, age 26, was involved in a high-speed pursuit in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Law enforcement eventually apprehended Coleman, but not before she crashed into a storefront, was shot by officers, and inflicted life-threatening injuries on a highway patrolman. Coleman pleaded guilty to driving under the influence (DUI) and aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer and admitted to the part II informations filed for both offenses. For the aggravated assault conviction, Coleman received a sentence of 50 years with 10 years suspended and 5 years for the DUI-fourth offense with 2.5 years suspended to be served consecutively for a total term of 42.5 years. On appeal, Coleman contends her sentence is grossly disproportionate to her crime in violation of the Eighth Amendment. We affirm.
[¶2] At approximately 2:30 a.m. on October 17, 2012, in Sioux Falls, a Chevy Malibu drew the attention of Highway Patrolman Andrew Steen. The driver of the Malibu stopped at an intersection during a green light, sat through a red light cycle, and then began moving once the light turned green. Trooper Steen attempted to stop the vehicle, but the driver, later identified as Coleman, refused to heed the officer, and a high speed pursuit ensued throughout the city. Trooper Steen and other law enforcement officers pursued Coleman for about 20 minutes with lights and sirens activated. Eventually, law enforcement chased Coleman to the parking lot of The Bridges strip mall.
[¶3] Once in the parking lot, law enforcement tried to encircle Coleman's Malibu to prevent her escape. To that end, law enforcement struck Coleman's Malibu several times from different angles, causing
it to spin in different directions. Trooper Steen exited the vehicle, positioned himself directly in Coleman's path, and directed her to get out of her car. Coleman shifted her vehicle from reverse and accelerated directly at Trooper Steen. Considering himself in mortal danger, Trooper Steen fired one round at Coleman, which penetrated the windshield and struck Coleman in the right arm.
[¶4] Injured but still refusing to stop, Coleman tried to drive away. Coleman's Malibu collided with Trooper Steen's patrol car, bounced off another patrol car, and eventually smashed into a storefront. Another patrol car, hoping to disable Coleman's vehicle, struck the back of her Malibu, causing it to turn parallel with the storefront. Trooper Steen positioned himself in front of Coleman's Malibu and ordered her out of the car. Coleman shifted into drive and accelerated her vehicle directly towards Trooper Steen at such a rate that she left black marks on the pavement. Coleman struck Trooper Steen, throwing him onto the hood of her Malibu. Trooper Steen travelled on the hood for approximately thirty yards before falling off and striking his head on the pavement. Coleman ran over Trooper Steen's ankle as she drove away. Coleman exited The Bridges' parking lot, and the ...