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Iowa AG Recommends No Criminal Charges in Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting in Burlington

Sep 24, 2019

The Iowa Attorney General's Office is recommending no criminal charges be filed against the law enforcement officers involved in a fatal shooting of Caleb Peterson, 20, of Burlington on September 11.

The recommendation came in the form of a three-page letter from Assistant Iowa AG Andrew Prosser to Des Moines County Attorney Lisa Schaefer. Schaefer said because the investigation involved local law enforcement, it was handled by the AG’s office as opposed to her office.

Prosser said in his letter that the actions of the law enforcement officers were in line with the situation facing them.

“On September 11, 2019, Mr. Peterson armed himself with a dangerous weapon and proceeded to threaten and seriously endanger the lives of multiple law enforcement officers, his former girlfriend and countless residents in two separate Burlington neighborhoods,” wrote Prosser in the letter. “[Peterson] failed or refused to heed numerous commands to disarm himself, both from police and his father, instead opting to threaten officers by pointing the weapon at them, then fleeing from and firing upon officers multiple times.

“Mr. Peterson left responding officers with no option but to stop him by their use of deadly force.”

Timeline

Prosser wrote that officers responded at 12:50 a.m. to a 911 call for gunshots fired in the area of N. Gunnison and Washington Streets in Burlington. At 12:53 a.m., Peterson’s former girlfriend called 911 to report that Peterson had fired several shots at the home where she was staying in the 300-block of N. Gunnison.

“She reported that Mr. Peterson had left the area in a white Chevy S10 with topper. She later explained that Mr. Peterson had been repeatedly calling and communicating her that evening and had threatened her, displayed a pistol pointed at her over a video chat or social media platform, and had threatened to kill her and to 'shoot up' anyone who was with or around her.”

Three bullet casings were recovered in the area of the home.

Officers found the Chevy S10 at about 12:57 a.m. heading south on S. Central Ave.

“Officer Clay Beckman initiated a stop of the vehicle on Summer Street just south of the intersection of Angular Street. By this time, he had been joined by Des Moines County Sheriff’s Office ('DMCSO') Deputy Ryan Luttenegger. Other officers, including BPD Lt. Greg Allen, Officers [Tyler] Henning and Nathan Crooks and DMCSO Deputy Sgt. Kevin Glendening continued to converge on the area.”

Peterson and his father exited the vehicle. Peterson then allegedly pulled out a gun and aimed it at officers before running away.

“Multiple car and body camera recordings from the incident reflect that in these first minutes after Mr. Peterson fled the scene of the vehicle stop, he shot his .380 cal. Pistol at least three times. No law enforcement gunfire occurred before or during this time period.”

The letter states that BPD Officers Henning and Crooks found Peterson near an alley between Summer and White Streets.

“The audio portion of the recording from Officer Henning’s vehicle recorded Office Henning loudly commanding Mr. Peterson to drop his weapon five (5) times. These commands were not obeyed. The recording also documents that one of the above-mentioned shots fired by Mr. Peterson occurred at about the time that Officer Henning’s gave his first command to Mr. Peterson to drop his weapon. Seeing Mr. Peterson pointing, and having heard shots fired, Officer Crooks fired at Mr. Peterson with his service pistol. After his fifth command, Officer Henning returned fire upon Mr. Peterson with his service rifle. These shots by Officers Crooks and Henning were nearly simultaneous. Mr. Peterson was not hit and fled easterly back toward Summer Street on or parallel to Chamberlain Street.”

Peterson was then confronted by officers again near the Summer and Dill Street intersection. Prosser said in his letter that that is where Peterson fired at least three more rounds at officers.

“Later investigation showed that Deputy Sgt. Glendening’s vehicle was struck by two (2) bullets. Having been fired upon by Mr. Peterson, Deputy Sgt. Glendening fired one round at Mr. Peterson from his service rifle from inside his vehicle. Seeing Mr. Peterson firing upon Deputy Sgt. Glendening from his position at 901 Summer Street, Officer Crooks again opened fire upon Mr. Peterson with his service pistol. Mr. Peterson was struck and killed by a single bullet that passed through his body and was not recovered. Deputy State Medical Examiner, Dr. Kelly Kruse, who performed the autopsy on Mr. Peterson, is unable to offer an opinion as to the caliber of projectile that killed Mr. Peterson.”