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Davenport police shooting deemed “reasonable”

Davenport, Iowa- The Officer who shot a man in April after being shot in the leg by a suspect has been cleared of wrongdoing by the Scott County states attorney.

Tuesday, May 7, Michael J. Walton the Scott County Attorney issued a press release detailing the events that led to the officer-involved shooting.

On April 25, 2019, around 4:20 p.m. Dennis Brett and Nathaniel Viering were walking in the area of West 17th St. and N. Sturdevant St.

Lt. Smull first saw them come out of an alleyway on the 1600 block of N. Sturdevant St. and both were "looking around continuously."

Lt. Smull and Officer Leabo were assigned to this area as an extra patrol "due to an increase in recent shootings and an increase in the calls for service." according to the state's attorney.

After seeing several actions that police say warranted reasonable suspicion they may have committed a crime or were going to commit a crime, Lt. Smull told his partner Officer Leabo to stop the two men based on his reasonable suspicion.

Nathaniel Viering, image from Scott County Jail

Officer Leabo then found the two men walking in the area and asked them to speak with him.

They denied several times and walked off.

"Officer Leabo then left his vehicle and walked after the men on foot. Officer Leabo asked the two men to stop and speak with him, and the two men did not stop. After Officer Leabo’s third request to stop, Brett Dennis turns around and tells Officer Leabo no. When the two men get to the intersection of 17th St. and Sturdevant they walked  into the street, in front of a traveling vehicle, just to avoid Officer Leabo."

As the two men started running away, Officer Leabo "believed Dennis had something that might hurt him, so he ordered Dennis to drop it and get out of there.”

Police say Officer Leabo yelled this multiple times. During the chase, Dennis yelled back to Officer Leabo, “shoot me, motherfucker.” 

Brett Dennis, Sr. Image from Scott County Jail

WQAD was there when this was happening.

After catching up to Dennis, officer Leabo and the man started wrestling for control of a gun Dennis had.

According to the release:

"During the struggle, Dennis was able to maneuver around to where he was now facing Officer Leabo—and at that point there was nothing between Officer Leabo and Dennis’s firearm. Dennis fired a shot, which hit Officer Leabo in the leg. Dennis fired a second shot, which hit Officer Leabo in the chest. Officer Leabo was wearing a bulletproof vest and the projectile fired from Dennis’s firearm was stopped by the vest. A projectile was later recovered from Officer Leabo’s vest. A bullet still remains in Officer Leabo’s foot. During the struggle and after he was shot, Officer Leabo fired his own weapon after he believed that he would be killed by Dennis if he did not fire his own weapon. Officer Leabo hit Dennis in the leg with his shot."

After being arrested, Dennis was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Police say they interrogated Dennis after he received medical treatment.

They say Dennis admitted to police that he had used methamphetamine around 2 P.M. that day.

Dennis also admitted that he heard Officer Leabo ask him to stop and he did not stop. He said he knew he was “wanted.”

"He stated that once the charges were “stacked against him” he decided that he was not going to go back to prison. He also admitted that he wanted the officer to shoot him. He admitted that when he was running, he decided he was going to mess with his satchel in an attempt to get the officer to think he had something and to get the officer to shoot him. Dennis refused to answer any questions related to having a gun himself or shooting a gun."

The States Attorney concluded by saying:

"The evidence shows Officer Leabo’s use of force was reasonable and justified under the circumstances. It was necessary to resist deadly force and to avoid further injury or death to himself, other officers, and the community."

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