South Dakota man faces murder charge after crashing into officer during police chase

 South Dakota prosecutors on Monday charged a Sioux Falls man with first-degree murder and aggravated battery in the death of a deputy who was hit while removing nails during a police pursuit.

Joseph Gene Houck, 40, was ordered held without bail in his first court appearance in the death of Moody County Chief Deputy Ken Prorock, 51, of Wentworth, who died during a pursuit Friday.

People close to Hoke described him as going "downward" due to drug use and increasing threats of violence, South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation special agent Jeffrey Kolars wrote in a court filing Sunday.

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South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley is prosecuting the case himself. He said they still need to investigate any mitigating factors, then sit down with Prorock's family, and then meet with the sheriff and his deputies before deciding whether to seek the death penalty. Will have to sit together.

"I believe the attorney general should lead from the front, and I have always tried to do that," Jackley told The Associated Press. "Especially when it involves a law enforcement officer who made the ultimate sacrifice."

"I know this is an emotional matter for everyone involved. But we'll go from there," he said.

Madison police responded to a call Friday afternoon in which a man identified as Hoke made "murder threats" near the business where the caller worked, the callers wrote. According to the agent, police saw his car and tried to stop him, but Hoke sped away on Highway 34 toward Interstate 29.

The chase reached 115 mph. Prorock stopped to deploy stop spikes on Highway 34, the agent wrote. But a witness said he saw the oncoming car deliberately swerve and strike the chief deputy before driving into a ditch and overturning. Hoke fled on foot. The witness chased Hoak, ran him over and detained Hoak until officers arrived, the filing says.

Prorok died at the scene. Hoke was checked at a hospital but was not seriously injured.

The callers wrote that they interviewed Hoke after he waived his right to remain silent. The agent wrote that Hoke told him he had gone to the business to collect money from the caller, who said he owed him money.

"When Hoke was told that a deputy sheriff was killed because of his actions and decisions, he responded that he did not believe me," the agent wrote. But Hoke claimed he suffered from anxiety and panic attacks that sometimes affected his memory, the agent said.

Detectives who searched the car found suspected THC vapes, suspected marijuana paraphernalia and "blunts," and containers of cold medicine, the agent wrote. Outside the car, he said, they found a clear hourglass and an unopened bottle of liquor.

When asked about the medications, Hoke told officers he suffered from pain and had received the prescription narcotic painkiller hydrocodone during some emergency room visits. But he said many doctors refused to give him the medicines he wanted. He said he had used medical marijuana for anxiety "a few days ago" and was prescribed the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, but he could not remember the last time he used it.

Hoque also said that he had been thrown out of several relatives' homes, but did not say why.

The man who called police told investigators that Hoke was a "family friend" who "began to bully him" and "began acting strange recently," which led to the man being placed on a no-contact order last month. And had to get a no-trespassing order, the agent wrote.

Hoke's mother told investigators that she believed her son "suffered from mental health problems and was self-medicating," but was smart enough to fool the mental health professionals who evaluated him, So he will be released quickly without any help. He also said he was addicted to the cough medicine dextromethorphan, which is sometimes abused.

One man said Hoke's "downward spiral" escalated after she obtained an order of protection against him last month and he "became increasingly physically violent," the agent wrote.

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