“Justifiable homicide” cited in dropping Rapid City manslaughter case

RAPID CITY, S.D. — The case against a Rapid City man accused of causing the death of a man by pushing him down an embankment last week has been dropped after the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office cites “justifiable homicide.”

Thomas Tesch, 51, of Rapid City was arrested Sept. 6 and charged with second-degree manslaughter for the death of 38-year-old Schuyler Swan.

Rapid City police were called to the 900 block of Mountain View Road around 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 5 after reports of an unresponsive male on an embankment. An autopsy conducted later in the day concluded Swan died of a brain bleed.

Police determined Tesch pushed Swan down the embankment.

In a document filed Monday, the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office declined the case after deeming it “to be unprosecutable.”

NewsCenter1 has reached out State’s Attorney Mark Vargo, who reviewed and declined the case.

Vargo tells NewsCenter1 Tesch used force in pushing Swan that was equal to a perceived threat. The threat – according to the probable cause affidavit – was Swan threatened to break a woman’s arm and Tesch was protecting the woman.

Vargo cites South Dakota statutes defining “justifiable homicide” which says “any person may make sufficient resistance in aid of defense of any other person, threatened with bodily injury, to prevent such offense.”

“Even though Mr. Swan died shortly afterward, there is no evidence or suggestion that Mr. Tesch was motivated by anything other than the lawful protection of a third party,” said Vargo.

Vargo says while the death is tragic, tragedy does not mean criminality.  “While we may wish that matters had transpired differently, we will never file charges not supported by the evidence,” said Vargo.

Categories: Crime, Local News