The video, released by the Burlington Police Department (BPD), briefly showed the police officer identified as Jesse Hill firing shots, hitting and killing the deceased in the process. The incident happened in January 2015. The family of the deceased is pressing the BDP to release the full video of the incident.
According to the account of the sad story, the now deceased Autumn Steele picked a quarrel with her husband regarding their marriage. The quarrel got a little messy; with Autumn’s husband getting the police involved to calm things down.
According to court records, Autumn was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of domestic abuse. She was later released from jail and told that she could not return to her matrimonial home without a police officer escorting her. Autumn wanted to go to the house to pack her belongings.
Officer Hill was then made to escort Autumn to the house. When the two reached the house, Autumn’s husband was just about to leave with his 4-year-old son. Seeing her husband, Autumn confronted him, getting into an altercation with him.
The little boy was watching his parents arguing. The family’s pet dog was also there. The dog, witnessing what was happening, became somehow excited; probably thinking it was a play. It jumped on the couple trying to get involved in the situation. It was then that officer Hill decided to break up the situation.
Eyewitnesses said that when Hill got close, the dog was still being playful with the couple. However, officer Hill became afraid of the dog and removed his pistol, deciding to fire at the dog. As he pulled the trigger, he fell backwards to the ground. One of the bullets hit Autumn through her chest in the process.
“The dog startled the officer. The officer began shooting at the dog. The officer was still shooting when he fell down in the snow,” one witness of the incident said.
Another witness was also quoted as saying “It appeared he was shooting at the dog when (the officer) fell to the ground. It’s my belief the woman was shot accidentally.”
After the reckless shooting, Hill called for help, and another officer arrived at the scene of the incident. Both officers then tried to calm Autumn’s husband, who was trying to help his wife now laying in a pool of blood.
“I’m a combat veteran. What are you guys doing? Let me help,” Autumn’s husband was quoted to have said to the officers.
Autumn was eventually taken by ambulance to the Great River Medical Center where she later died of the gunshot wound she sustained.
The BPD later released a statement saying that the dog attacked Hill, and that Hill was only attempting to shoot the dog, but slipped.
The Des Moines County Attorney, Amy Beavers also provided a 7 page letter to the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigations, stating that Hill should not be prosecuted. The attorney said the decision not to prosecute Hill was arrived at by examining body camera evidence, witness statements, and reports from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.
However, Autumn’s family has condemned the decision by the attorney not to prosecute the officer. The family said they will press for justice in the case. Local residents have since organized protests in the city in support of the family.
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