SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota – A Sioux Falls man has been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated eluding following the death of a deputy who was struck while laying out spikes during a police chase. Joseph Gene Hoek, 40, appeared in court where he was ordered to be held without bail in connection to the death of Moody County Chief Deputy Ken Prorok, 51, of Wentworth.
According to court filings, individuals close to Hoek described him as being on a “downward spiral” marked by drug use and increasing threats of violence. South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley is personally prosecuting the case, stating that he still needs to look into any factors that may mitigate the crime before deciding whether to seek the death penalty.
Hoek’s attorney, Manuel De Castro, expressed his initial impression that Hoek was “overcharged,” and mentioned that there are potential mental health issues that need to be explored. He acknowledged that it is an emotional case for all involved.
The incident began with a call about Hoek making “homicidal threats” near a workplace, to which the police responded. The ensuing police chase reached speeds of 115 mph before Prorok attempted to use stop spikes on the highway. A witness claimed to have seen the car swerve and intentionally strike the chief deputy, resulting in a fatal crash.
Investigators found suspected THC vapes, marijuana paraphernalia, and containers of cold medicine in Hoek’s car. Hoek also claimed to have used medical marijuana for anxiety, as well as having been prescribed the anti-anxiety drug Xanax. He also stated that he experienced pain and had obtained the prescription narcotic pain reliever hydrocodone on some emergency room visits.
In addition, Hoek’s mother mentioned her belief that her son was struggling with mental health issues and was self-medicating, but was adept at deceiving mental health professionals. The court filings also detailed reports of escalating threats and violence from Hoek in the lead-up to the incident.