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IC police: officer-involved shootings rare

BY MATT STARNS | DECEMBER 06, 2011 7:20 AM

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It's rare for Iowa City police officers to open fire on suspects, records reviewed by TheDailyIowan this week show.

The shooting of a local man by an Iowa City police officer Sunday morning is still under investigation, officials said Monday. Iowa City police Sgt. Denise Brotherton said officer-involved shootings such as this are rare.

"Unfortunately, [shooting] can be a result," she said about police encounters with armed subjects. "It's all up to what the person is doing."

The investigation comes after Chad Newmire, a 21-year-old Iowa City resident, was shot Sunday by Officer Alirio Arcenas after Newmire allegedly reached for a gun in the waistband of his pants.

Online records through the Iowa City City Clerk's office indicate officers haven't discharged a weapon to de-escalate a situation involving an armed subject since at least before 2009 — the furthest back use-of-force records are available.

Officers have, however, displayed a firearm on several occasions, with seven displays in 2011, 20 in 2010, and 25 in 2009.

A statement from the police said the incident occurred when an officer responded to 1009 N. Summit St. at 6:11 a.m., after police received a report from a relative who had received a despondent text message from Newmire.

The officer reportedly located Newmire outside the house, with a handgun in the waistband of his pants. Additional officers responded to assist, and police negotiated with Newmire for approximately 40 minutes.

Newmire then allegedly began to reach for the gun in his waistband, prompting officers to fire less-lethal bean-bag rounds and a Taser. Arcenas then fired his handgun, preventing Newmire from reaching his weapon.

Brotherton said officers are trained to assess situations and use the appropriate amount of force to safely de-escalate a situation.

"The person we're dealing with dictates — [officers are] going to respond to what that person's doing," she said, and that encountering an armed subject doesn't necessarily warrant the use of lethal force. "They're not going to fire until that person shows some action that they're going to do something with that weapon."

Iowa City police policy says an officer may use "deadly force" for self protection or the protection of others from what they believe to be an immediate threat of death or serious injury.

Arcenas, a two-year veteran of the department, has been placed on paid leave. It is standard policy for an officer who used lethal force to be placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation of the incident.

Newmire sustained injuries that were described as "not life-threatening" in a release by the Iowa City police.

The shooting is being investigated by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, in conjunction with the Johnson County Attorney's Office.

"Interviews are still going on, and it's still being investigated," Johnson County prosecutor Janet Lyness said, and she believes the investigation should be completed later this week.

When contacted, DCI officials deferred comment to Lyness.


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