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Transient may have been shot by off-duty deputy

BY REGINA ZILBERMINTS | JULY 24, 2009 11:40 PM

A plain-clothed Johnson County deputy fatally shot a transient man Friday evening following a stabbing outside Hawkeye Hideaway bar, Iowa City police confirmed early Saturday.

According to witnesses, the stabbing victim left the bar with his wife and saw a 26-year-old homeless man drop a bag of cans and bottles onto the pavement, strewing trash across the parking lot in front of City Electric Supply, 315 E. Prentiss St.

The bar patron reportedly told the transient to clean the bottles up, but the transient stabbed him with a knife.

“Him being a nice guy — an Iowa City local guy — he likes to keep things clean,” said Kevin Grimm, a co-owner of Hawkeye Hideaway, 310 E. Prentiss St. “[He was] being a good neighbor.”

Iowa City police said they received a report from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office about a fight in the area shortly after 7 p.m. Friday. At the same time, dispatchers fielded several 911 calls reporting a man with a gun on the scene.

Responding officers identified the man with the gun as a Johnson County deputy in plain clothes. The deputy confronted the transient, but the 26-year-old allegedly ignored repeated orders to drop the knife. Instead, he advanced “threateningly” toward the already injured bar patron, police said.

The sheriff’s deputy then shot the transient man once. He has since died from his injuries, police confirmed.

Witnesses disagreed over whether they heard the deputy identify himself as law enforcement before firing the single shot.

In fact, three men who refused to give their names, or even speak to local media in front of police, denied seeing a knife the the transient’s hands.

They said they pulled up in their car when they saw a small black man lying propped up against a car. The deputy, who they said didn’t display his badge, told the man he would shoot if the man got up.
“He didn’t know he was a cop,” one of the witnesses said. “He was scared.”

The transient responded with at expletive and stood up. He put his hands up, the men said, and stumbled sideways, clearly intoxicated. That’s when the deputy shot him.

The men agreed the first time they saw the deputies badge was when he held it up as Iowa City police began to arrive.

The bar patron who was stabbed underwent emergency surgery is expected to survive, police said Saturday afternoon.

Officials are still attempting to identify and locate the family of the man who was shot. They hadn’t released the names of any parties involved Saturday.


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