- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 2, 2020

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - A Rapid City man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for shooting at a Pennington County sheriff’s deputy in an exchange of gunfire in 2017.

More than 30 law enforcement officers packed a courtroom at the Pennington County Courthouse Tuesday when Cruz DeLeon was sentenced to the maximum term.

DeLeon earlier pleaded guilty to attempted murder and committing a felony while armed with a gun.

Deputy Jakob Whittle was at a Box Elder home in July 2017 to serve a warrant when he approached DeLeon who was 21 at the time and was sitting in a car. Prosecutors say DeLeon refused Whittle’s commands to get out of the vehicle and then pointed a gun at him.

Whittle stepped back and fired twice, hitting DeLeon once in the arm. DeLeon also fired two rounds but did not hit Whittle.

“That day will forever be burned into my memory,” Whittle said during his victim impact statement. Cruz DeLeon “decided to take my life so he could live his” outside of jail.

Whittle said the situation was dangerous because there were children at the home who could have been hurt, the Rapid City Journal reported.

“Thank God (DeLeon) is not a good shot and I am,” he said, explaining that he wasn’t trying to kill DeLeon but disarm him by aiming at his arm.

The attorney general ruled Whittle’s use of force was justified since DeLeon had a deadly weapon.

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