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South Dakota-connected officer killed following Wisconsin traffic stop

Leising pictured during her time with Pennington County
Pennington County Sheriff's Office
Leising pictured during her time with Pennington County

A law enforcement officer with ties to the Black Hills was killed in the line of duty in Wisconsin.

Katie Leising worked for the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office for two years before moving to St. Croix County, Wisconsin last year.

Leising was shot and killed Saturday while responding to a vehicle stuck in a ditch. Authorities say the driver opened fire after refusing a field sobriety test.

The St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office identified the suspect in Leising’s death as 34-year-old Jeremiah Johnson. His body was found in the woods nearby about an hour after the shooting. Investigators say he died by suicide.

Pennington County Sheriff Brian Mueller worked with Leising when she was a deputy based in Hill City. He said she was a well-liked, hardworking officer.

“On our staff, on community members, on neighboring law enforcement agencies, volunteer fire departments, I just can’t tell you the number of people that have reached out the last two days who are just devastated after hearing about her loss," Mueller said. "St. Croix Sheriff’s office, Sheriff Knudsen and his staff out there, I know they’re a tight-knit family just like we are, and they’re hurting and grieving too.”

Senior Deputy Jim Waldrop is assigned to Hill City and worked alongside Leising.

“When you work in Hill City, typically, it’s best if you just go by your first name – even if you’re just a deputy out there," Waldrop said. "So, if you drove up to Hill City and asked for Deputy Leising they’d be like ‘who?’ But if you asked for Katie, they would know Katie. That’s a community that loved her when she was there and they’re certainly going to have to grieve her loss.”

Waldrop said he’ll remember Leising as a model officer.

"She was a part of that community - she would be in that community when she wasn’t working," Waldrop said. "Everybody around there really saw her as one of them. She was great to work with up there. The community and myself, we were just sad to see her move away. Those are the good ones you wanna keep."

Leising was 29.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture