Photo courtesy Terrance Circle Bear Sr.
On July 5, 24-year-old Sarah Lee Circle Bear of Clairmont, South Dakota, was found unconscious in a holding cell in Brown County Jail in Aberdeen. Circle Bear, a Lakota, was jailed on a bond violation.

Authorities End Investigation Into Death of Sarah Lee Circle Bear

Simon Moya-Smith

The South Dakota State Attorney General announced Thursday that authorities have officially concluded their investigation into the death of a Sarah Lee Circle Bear, the 24-year-old Lakota mother of two boys who family claims was pregnant when she died in police custody in South Dakota last July.

In August, Attorney General Marty Jackley said, citing the toxicology report, Circle Bear, of Clairmont, died of a drug overdose after methamphetamine was found in her blood.

RELATED: Manning: Sarah Lee Circle Bear Died While in Police Custody; Family Seeks Justice

Circle Bear, who was arrested on a bond violation following a traffic accident on July 3, somehow smuggled the narcotic into the Brown County Jail in Aberdeen, South Dakota, states a press release sent to ICTMN by State Attorney spokeswoman Sara Rabern on Thursday.

“After the review of jail surveillance video and numerous interviews, investigators found no evidence to indicate Circle Bear obtained methamphetamine while in custody at the Brown County Jail and the totality of evidence demonstrates she brought the controlled substance into the Brown County Jail in a way that was not detectable from regular and acceptable jail procedures,” the press release reads.

Authorities concluded that jailers were closely monitoring Circle Bear while she was in her cell, a finding that stands in stark contrast to a statement made by an inmate that jailers had allegedly ignored Circle Bear as she shouted for help as she suffered excruciating abdominal pain. The jailers allegedly told Circle Bear to “knock it off” and “quit faking.”

According to the press release, after a nearby inmate signaled for help, “[Circle Bear] was removed from cell block and taken to a holding cell where she was more closely monitored by jail staff for the next two hours, including checking her vital signs and consulted medical staff via telephone. At 10:37 a.m. Circle Bear was then found unresponsive and EMT services were called immediately.”

RELATED: Sarah Lee Circle Bear Was Pregnant When She Died in Police Custody, Family Says

Terrance Circle Bear Sr., Sarah Lee’s father, told ICTMN on Thursday that he feels the Brown County Sheriff’s Office is withholding information.

“If she was more closely monitored why didn’t they take her to the hospital?” he asked.

Authorities also claim that three times authorities asked Circle Bear if she was under the influence of drugs. “Each time she denied,” the press release reads.

In August, ICTMN had requested the toxicology report on Circle Bear to confirm her pregnancy at the time of her death, but Rabern said it is against South Dakota state statute to release toxicology reports to the public.

Circle Bear’s two sons are currently living with their grandmother.

Read the entire press release: Release of Additional Findings on Death Investigation of Sarah Circle Bear at the Brown County Jail

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