DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa police are refusing to share video or audio recordings in connection with three officers fatally shooting a 16-year-old boy on the advice of legal counsel.
The decision comes after the Iowa Attorney General’s office ruled that the Des Moines officers who shot the teenager at a southside apartment complex on Dec. 26 “acted with legal justification.” The boy’s name has not been released publicly.
The office, led by newly elected Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird, based its ruling on interviews with the three officers who fired at the boy, along with a fourth officer and other witnesses, as well as a review of the officers’ body camera video.
Officers Noah Bollinger, Zachary Duitscher, and Thomas Garcia have been taken off of patrol and placed on administrative leave since the shooting pending the completion of an administrative review.
The Des Moines Police Department was set to release the video it had prepared from all four officers’ cameras when the city’s legal department stepped in.
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Des Moines Police spokesperson Sgt. Paul Parizek said they were told the records are confidential under state lawbecause the video contains images of a minor committing a “delinquent act.” Even though the juvenile will not be prosecuted, the law still applies, he said.
Parizek said state law “prohibits release of law enforcement information concerning juveniles prior to the filing of a complaint or petition regardless of whether a taking into custody takes place, or a citation is issued.”
The Des Moines Register, part of the USA TODAY Network, which had requested the unedited video and audio, intends to pursue its legal options to obtain them.
What happened on Dec. 26
The report concluded the Des Moines officers had acted legally and are not liable for any criminal charges in relation to the shooting. It said that all four officers had their body cameras switched on and there appeared to be no missing video.
According to the report, Bollinger and Garcia were dispatched to the apartment complex after 911 operators received a call from the boy’s stepfather that the teen had pulled a handgun on him. It said the officers arrived at the complex at 12:30 a.m. and found the boy was in his grandmother’s apartment, near his parents’ apartment.
The officers went inside and were joined by Duitscher and a fourth officer, Nicholas Howard, who entered by breaking through a rear glass door, and negotiated with the boy for 4 minutes, 20 seconds to drop the weapon. They and family members asked him more than 70 times to put down the gun and surrender peacefully, but he did not comply, the report said.
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The boy, the report said, told the officers his brother had just died and “I want to be with my brother” and “I am going to die.” His brother, Brandon Michael Tukes, 23, had been fatally shot on Nov. 5 in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, Arizona, according to police there.
The report said the boy told the officers he would keep the gun and raised it above his waist three times during the confrontation. It said the officers would have been justified in firing during any of those movements.
The teenager’s grandmother and one of his friends were in the room when the boy started raising his gun again toward Duitscher and Howard, the report said. Duitscher, Bollinger, and Garcia, who were as close as 3 feet from the boy, shot him 14 times in the chest, abdomen and head.
The report said the head wounds apparently occurred as the boy fell and he did not fire his gun, nor did the fourth officer, Howard.
The officers attempted life-saving measures and took the boy to a hospital, where he died.
Contributing: Francesca Block, The Des Moines Register