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Man Accused of Hurling Beer, Racial Slurs at Native American Kids Will Not Face Jail Time, Judge Says

The man who hurled beer and racial slurs at a group of Native American kids at a hockey game in Rapid City, South Dakota in January will not face jail time, a judge said Thursday.

The man who is suspected of hurling beer and racial slurs at a group of Native American kids at a hockey game in Rapid City, South Dakota, in January will not face jail time, a judge said Thursday.

Trace O'Connell, 41, of Philip, South Dakota, is accused of pouring beer on a group of Native American students during a Rapid City Rush hockey game at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. He is also accused of telling the kids to "go back to the reservation."

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After a lengthy investigation by Rapid City Police, O’Connell was eventually charged with disorderly conduct, and would have faced up to 30 days in jail if convicted. But on Thursday, Fourth Circuit Magistrate Judge Eric Strawn removed the possibility of any jail time.

"I will not consider actual internment, but a fine," Strawn told Rapid City Attorney Joel Landeen and O’Connell’s defense attorney Mike Butler, the Associated Press reported. Strawn said he based his decision on a review of the case as well as O’Connell’s lack of a criminal history.

Landeen said he was disappointed by Strawn’s decision. “I was prepared to seat a jury and go forward,” he told the Associated Press.

In February, family members of the victims were enraged when they were told O’Connell would not face charges of child abuse or assault.

Native Americans in Rapid City and nearby Pine Ridge reservation have said the incident is indicative of the climate of racism against Native Americans that is deeply rooted in the city’s white inhabitants. Native American families have said they fear allowing their children to travel to Rapid City.

O’Connell has pleaded not guilty to the charges.