Wapello County Attorney clears two officers involved in June 25 shooting
By Courtney Durst, August 08, 2016
An August 8 press release from Wapello County Attorney Gary E. Oldenburger says that two City of Ottumwa Police Officers under investigation [by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation] following the officer-involved shooting of June 25, 2016 have been cleared.
Oldenburger notes he used eleven resources during his personal investigation of the incident: The written reports of officers Derek Shaw, Noah Aljets, David Lowe, Zach Makita, and Justin Rice; The dash camera videos; The audio recordings of 911 calls and dispatch radio traffic; The written reports of Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation special agents who investigated the incident; The lab reports of the Iowa DCI Criminalistics Laboratory; The audio recordings of the interviews of Officers Shaw, Aljets, Lowe, Makita, and Rice conducted by the Iowa DCI; The reports of the interviews of witnesses conducted by the Iowa DCI; Ottumwa Police Department Use of Force and Firearms policies; Training records of Sgt. Aljets and Officer Shaw; Personal observations of the scene; and Consultations with the DCI case agent.
The statement notes that five officers of the Ottumwa Police Department responded to the scene on June 25: Sergeant Noah Aljets, Officer Derek Shaw, Officer David Lowe, Officer Zach Makita, and Officer Justin Rice.
At the time, the officers were only aware that “a house at 416 Waverly Street in Ottumwa was on fire, and that a man was outside of the house shooting at the house”.
In response to the situation, officers took up positions around the structure of the nearby Riverside United Methodist Church.
After receiving more information about the situation from dispatch, officers prepared to assess subject “‘Mike Heady’…[who] was armed with a ‘large gun’ with a ‘large rectangular clip on it’…[and who] had entered the house prior to their arrival”.
The officers were dispersed at different vantage points throughout the incident such that when “Mike Heady Sr. exited the residence carrying an AK-47 style rifle by the pistol grip in his right hand,” only Sergeant Aljets, Officer Rice, and Officer Shaw were aware of it.
Officers Lowe and Makita were assessing two individuals who had exited the rear of the house around the time of Heady’s exit from the front of the house.
Oldenburger’s investigation determined that when “Heady exited the front door of the house…[and] began walking towards the position where Sgt. Aljets and Officer Rice were located, and raised the rifle in his right hand with it pointed across the street to the west…[and then] in the direction of Sgt. Aljets,” the officers were justifiable in responding with reasonable force as defined by Iowa Code 704.1.
According to the report, “Sgt. Aljets fired three times and Officer Shaw fired once. Heady then fell to the ground, partially behind the tree. Officer Aljets fired one more time”.
After neutralizing the threat, the officers moved Heady to safety away from the burning house.
The report notes that “two additional persons exited the residence” shortly thereafter.
As a result of the altercation, “Heady sustained two gunshot wounds to the torso…[and] was transported to Ottumwa Regional Health Center, where he was treated for his injuries and remained hospitalized for several days”.
Oldenburger determined that Heady’s injuries qualify for “the definition of a serious injury as defined in Iowa Code 702.18”.
However, since the injuries were inflicted using reasonable force as it is defined by Iowa Code 704.3– which says “a person is justified in the use of reasonable force when the person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to defend oneself or another from any imminent use of unlawful force”– Oldenburger determined that Sergeant Aljets and Officer Shaw should not be tried criminally for the responsibility of Heady’s injuries.
Oldenburger further concluded that “Sgt. Aljets and Officer Shaw’s use of force in this incident was reasonable and justified to defend themselves, their fellow officers, the occupants of 416 Waverly, and the public”.