A 39-year-old woman who allegedly threatened Campbell County Sheriff’s deputies with a knife was shot and killed after leading deputies on a high-speed chase late Wednesday.
The black Chevy Avalanche the woman was driving was reported trespassing by Dry Fork mine at about 11:30 p.m., said Frosty Williams, operations supervisor for the Gillette office of the state Division of Criminal Investigation. Sheriff’s deputies contacted the vehicle, which tried to flee from law enforcement.
Deputies used spike strips to deflate the tires on the Avalanche and bring the vehicle to a stop on Garner Lake Road near Vaquero Drive, east of Gillette, he said. At some point, the woman got out of the vehicle brandishing a knife.
“She was threatening the officers who were there,” Williams said.
She was verbally commanded by deputies to drop the knife and did not, said Campbell County Attorney Ron Wirthwein, whose office is investigating the shooting with the Division of Criminal Investigation. At that point, “less lethal means” of subduing the suspect were attempted, including shooting her with a Taser.
“It certainly didn’t stop the suspect,” Wirthwein said of what effect the Taser had.
The investigation is in its early stages, both Williams and Wirthwein said, and it will include an autopsy on the woman scheduled for later Thursday. The results of the autopsy, including toxicology to determine if and what kind of drugs may have been in the woman’s system, may not be known for about four to six weeks.
Officials are also “in the process of interviewing employees (at the mine) and other witnesses and people who work at the mine,” Williams said.
The woman’s identity is being withheld until the Campbell County Coroner’s Office can notify her next of kin.
The woman was alone in the Avalanche, Williams said, and there are no other suspects.
Williams and Wirthwein also declined to say how many deputies were involved in the shooting. Any that were involved have been put on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation, which is standard policy, they said.
The investigation also will include examination of audio and video of the altercation taken by the dashboard cameras in the deputies’ vehicles and from their body cams, Wirthwein said.