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No Charges Against Burlington Police Officer

Burlington Police Officer Jesse Hill will not face criminal charges after fatally shooting a woman on Jan. 6, 2015.  Des Moines County Attorney Amy Beavers made the announcement Friday afternoon after a roughly two-week review of evidence related to the shooting.

She said, in a seven-page letter to Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Agent Matthew George that "Officer Hill's actions could be determined to be reasonable under the circumstances to protect himself from injury."

Beavers went on to say that "Officer Hill was faced with the decision to shoot in an instant.  He had to process the situation alone and made the decision at the time that the threat was occurring."

Events of January 6

* Autumn Steele appeared in Des Moines County court after being arrested the night before for assaulting her husband, Gabriel Steele.  A no-contact order was issued at that time, prohibiting Autumn Steele from having contact with her husband.

* After being released, Autumn Steele went to her home at 104 S. Garfield Ave.  Gabriel Steele called 911 to report a domestic assault involving his wife.

* Officer Jesse Hill arrived to find Gabriel Steele leaving the house with a child in his hands.  Hill saw Autumn Steele grabbing her husband's shirt from behind, pulling him down and hitting him.  

* Hill approached the couple, activating his body camera before he got to them.  He attempted to split them up when the family dog started growling and bit Hill in the thigh.

* Hill advised the Steeles to get the dog, but it continued toward the officer.  Hill drew his weapon.  He fired the weapon as he fell backwards.

* Hill fired his gun a second time as he fell backwards to the ground.

* Gabriel Steele told Hill that Autumn Steele had been shot.  Medical care was provided to Steele, but she died from her injury.  The dog was also shot during the incident.

Beavers said in her letter that the facts in the case were corroborated by Hill's body camera video, witness statements, reports and the DCI investigation.  She considered several charges, including Murder, against Hill before deciding not to charge him with anything.

Beavers, in a telephone interview, said the death of Autumn Steele was a "tragic accident."   There is still the possibility of a civil lawsuit now that criminal charges are off the table.

Meanwhile, the dog at the center of the shooting was found to be "not vicious" by the Burlington Animal Hearing Board this week, allowing it to be returned to its owner.

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