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Law enforcement officer killed in line of duty

Iowa Case Report: 11IA013
Report Date: February 20, 2013

The following report is the product of our Cooperative State partner and is presented here in its original unedited form from the state. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


A 39-year-old Sheriff’s Deputy was fatally shot by a county resident with history of mental illness during a 45-minute shootout at a rural property. The Deputy Sergeant (victim), Sheriff, and a Chief Deputy travelled to a rural property to conduct a welfare check on the resident who had exhibited signs of mental instability in the days prior to the shooting. The rural resident, who was known to local officers and grew up in the community, had a history of bipolar disorder. Five weeks prior to the shooting, the resident’s family members initiated involuntary commitment proceedings but the petition was denied. The resident was discharged from the hospital days later. No family members or local health care providers were apprised of the individual’s diagnosis or of any prescribed medications following his evaluation. On the morning of the incident, law enforcement agents spoke with the rural resident by telephone to let him know they were planning to stop at his home to check on his welfare. The three officers arrived at the farm and went to the porch to announce their arrival, but the resident did not respond. Not knowing the resident’s location, the officers used a public address system to announce their arrival and then saw the resident through the window, holding a gun. Officers took cover in their vehicles and the resident opened fire from inside the house, disabling both vehicles driven to the site. Officers then took cover behind one of their vehicles, radioed for help, and returned fire. In the course of the ensuing gunfire, the resident came out of his house, firing a shotgun at the officers who had taken cover behind a vehicle. One of the shots passed through a deputy’s vehicle and struck the deputy in the head, killing him instantly. When the resident turned toward the house, the two remaining law enforcement agents at the scene made a decision to retreat down the 0.2-mile lane while under fire. During the time that had passed, law enforcement personnel from multiple agencies in the surrounding area were arriving at the roadway. Over the three-hour period that followed, tactical police and a family member attempted to negotiate by phone with the resident who refused to cooperate. Tactical teams deployed to the farmstead shot and killed the resident when he exited his house armed and preparing to fire.

Law enforcement officer killed in line of duty [PDF 1.13 MB]