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DMC Attorney to Decide on Charges in Fatal Shooting

Des Moines County Attorney Amy Beavers expects to decide within the next 30 days whether to file charges in connection with a fatal shooting by a Burlington police officer.

She said the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation has provided her with the results of its investigation into the death of Autumn Steele, 34, of Burlington, including video recordings and interviews.

Steele was shot once by Burlington Police Officer Jesse Hill on Tuesday, Jan. 6.  Hill was responding to a domestic call in the 100 block of S. Garfield Avenue.

Beavers wants to meet with members of Steele's family before deciding whether to press charges.  She said she has a meeting scheduled with Steele's husband and his attorney.

"Once I gather the information that I need and review all of the reports, then I will be making a decision on whether criminal charges will be proper against the officer," Beavers said.

Extended Interview w/ Amy Beavers

Beavers said that decision is hers -- and hers alone -- to make.

She said the DCI does not include a recommendation in its report and at this time she does not plan to forward the findings to the Iowa Attorney General's Office for review.

"I do not have to reach out to the Attorney General unless there is a conflict," said Beavers. 

"A conflict would exist perhaps if this involved one of the deputies in the Des Moines County Sheriff's Department.  There would potential be a conflict then, but since this is a Burlington police officer, I do not believe there is a conflict."

Beavers said she will not rush her review, but she understands the families involved are looking for answers.

She said something she will be looking for is "criminal intent."

"What is the level of criminal intent and what would be a charge that would fit the facts of the case? Every criminal charge has what we call 'elements' and you would have to meet all of the elements and criminal statutes and be able to prove them beyond a reasonable doubt."

One question surrounding the case is whether the results of the DCI investigation will be made public.

Beavers said it is too early to tell.

"It just depends on the type of evidence that it is," said Beavers.  "Any matter under investigation is deemed confidential.  Once that determination (of charges) is made, I foresee that some evidence will most likely be released."

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.