No charges to be filed against officer who killed suspect after chase, standoff

By  | 

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) -- Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber said Monday that no charges will be filed against Officer Paul Damrow who fired a fatal shot in last week's officer-involved shooting in which a suspect now linked to a homicide investigation was killed.

Wilber specified at the Monday news conference that his statements would relate only to Wednesday's officer-involved shooting and that he would not address criminal elements of the case that remain pending against a suspect currently in custody.

The shot fired killed Troy Petersen, 28, following a confrontation with law enforcement officers in the 1400 block of Indian Hills Road, where a pursuit had come to an end with the crash of a Dodge Ram occupied by Petersen and April Montello-Roberts, 44, who now faces murder charges.

Shots had been fired at officers during a pursuit, which was initiated after a traffic violation and ultimately ended in the crash, authorities said. Petersen drew weapons with one aimed at Montello-Roberts and the other aimed in the direction of officers, reports state.

The prosecutor said that after Officer Damrow had been on the scene of a standoff for 45 minutes, the situation dramatically changed. Wilber said at that point, Petersen had pointed a gun at Montello-Roberts' head.

Wilber said Monday that when Officer Damrow was asked why he made the decision to shoot, he said: "I felt he was going to kill her right there. If I didn't do anything, I thought, she was going to die."

In the investigation that followed, Petersen and Montello-Roberts were linked to the murder of Jerrot Clark, 52, and Steven Carlson, 51, who were killed in separate incidents leading up to the showdown with authorities in which Petersen was killed.

Clark's body was found near 21st Street and Sixth Avenue on Sunday, Aug. 4, and investigators said Carlson was killed on Wednesday, Aug. 7, at a home on Yellow Pole Road during a brief gap in the police pursuit when authorities lost track of the suspects' truck.

In addition to the two counts of felony murder and two counts of attempted murder, Montello-Roberts is charged with first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary.

County Attorney Wilber said he has handled 14 cases of officer-involved gunfire in his career and that "this is the clearest justification case I've ever dealt with."

Officer Damrow has been on administrative leave since the incident. Authorities said Monday that he will return to duty shortly.