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Salem man involved in shooting pleads not guilty, awaits jury trial

SALEM -- A Salem man shot seven times by police in an altercation earlier this year awaits a jury trial in May. Cornelius Milk, 38, pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer and aggravated eluding on Nov. 30. Both...

SALEM - A Salem man shot seven times by police in an altercation earlier this year awaits a jury trial in May.

Cornelius Milk, 38, pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer and aggravated eluding on Nov. 30. Both charges are felonies.

  At approximately 10:50 p.m. on July 19, McCook County Deputy Randy Schwader responded to a call involving a man with a gun at the Brewery Bar in Salem where the man, later identified as Milk, allegedly threatened to "put some holes" in the bar according to the bar's owner.

Shortly after Schwader's arrival, Milk exited the bar firing one or two gunshots in the air, according to court documents. The gunshots caused Schwader to command Milk to drop his gun and lay on the ground.

Court documents state Milk disobeyed Schwader's commands and entered a Ford Mustang parked in front of the bar. When Milk started the car's engine, Schwader was standing directly in front of Milk, leading the deputy to believe Milk would attempt to run him over and drive the vehicle into the bar.

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According to court documents, Schwader shot three rounds into the hood of the vehicle in an attempt to disable the car. Milk then put the car in reverse before attempting to move his arm in Schwader's direction, causing Schwader to believe Milk had a gun.

Once Milk began to drive toward Schwader, the deputy began firing his handgun a total of 12 times, with seven shots striking Milk in the arms and torso.

After he was shot, the vehicle Milk was driving rolled several feet into the nearby Transamerica Financial Advisors building.

Schwader was later justified for using his firearm in the incident, but Milk will face a jury trial on May 10 for his role in the incident. The South Dakota Attorney General's Office found Schwader justified for his actions.

If convicted, Milk could receive a 25-year prison sentence and a $50,000 fine for aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer and two years in prison and a $4,000 for aggravated eluding.

Milk, who had a blood alcohol content of .244 and tested positive for THC after the shooting, qualifies as a habitual offender in the state for having four previous conviction of four felonies. Under state law, a habitual offender convicted of three or more felonies can have their principal felony enhanced by two levels but not to exceed the lifetime prison sentence for a Class C felony.

In the past, Milk has been convicted of third degree burglary, third offense operating while intoxicated, reckless burning or exploding and distribution or possession of more than one ounce but less than a half pound of marijuana with intent to distribute.

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