Attorney General – Press Release - Referencing Circle Bear’s accountability


Blaming Circle Bear

On July 5th, Circle Bear was found unconscious in her cell. The Brown County Jail staff “immediately” requested Emergency Medical Service (EMS) dispatch upon finding her unresponsive. However, Circle Bear passed away.

Following her death, the Division of Criminal Investigation of the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office conducted an investigation into the circumstances of the death.

On September 3, 2005, the Attorney General released a statement about the findings of the investigation. The Attorney General placed the blame for the death squarely on Circle Bear, noting that she died as a result of having ingested fatal amounts of methamphetamine before her arrest:

“Final autopsy results were released and confirmed that Circle Bear had died as a result of acute methamphetamine/amphetamine toxicity. Toxicology analysis of blood obtained at autopsy was positive for a toxic and lethal concentration of methamphetamine. The autopsy further showed no further evidence of injury which would have caused or contributed to her death.”



Press Release







News Articles

Many news outlets responded to Circle Bear’s case:

Manning: Sarah Lee Circle Bear Died While in Police Custody Family Seeks Justice Indian Country Media Network

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

Authorities End Investigation Into Death of Sarah Lee Circle Bear

Autopsy: Sarah Lee Circle Bear Died of Meth Overdose Two Days After Arrest

Native Lives Matter, Too





Please Read

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are respectfully advised that this website contains images of and references to deceased persons.

All viewers are respectfully advised that the site contains images of and references to the deaths in custody of Indigenous peoples, Black people and refugees that may cause distress.