- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2015

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - Two police officers were cleared of criminal charges Friday for shooting and injuring a Cedar Rapids car salesman during a late-night traffic pursuit in March.

The decision to shoot Kyle Orth was justified because he ignored commands to put his hands up and instead sped his sports car directly at one of the officers, Linn County Attorney Jerry VanderSanden said in a report.

Orth was charged Friday with assault on a peace officer with a dangerous weapon, interference with official acts while attempting to inflict serious injury, operating while intoxicated and two counts of eluding police.

The March 29 shooting left Orth with injuries to his left arm, right shoulder and left thigh, but he was treated and released from a hospital within hours. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation investigated the shooting and turned over its findings to the prosecutor last month.

Orth, 27, has publicly questioned the decision to shoot him. He has denied that he drove recklessly at the officer and said that he could not see him because of the squad car’s flashing lights.

VanderSanden’s report rejected those claims. Their squad car video shows officers Brandon Tinta and Jeremy Depies drawing weapons and ordering Orth to put his hands up, he wrote. Instead, Orth put his car in drive and “rapidly accelerated directly” at Tinta, who was only 15 feet away, the report said. Both officers opened fire because they believed Tinta was in mortal danger, a reasonable belief under the circumstances, the prosecutor wrote.

“There was no reason Orth could not have seen” Tinta standing directly in front of his vehicle, the prosecutor added, noting that the headlights on Orth’s vehicle were working.

The officers started pursuing the orange BMW coupe that Orth had borrowed from his dealership after he was seen speeding through a red light in Cedar Rapids. They activated their lights and siren to try to pull him over, but abandoned the chase for safety reasons when Orth drove the wrong way on a one-way street, the report said.

They later found the vehicle parked in an alley, and again activated their lights and siren as they approached. Orth put his car in reverse for about 80 yards to try to get away, eventually hitting a utility pole, the report said. That’s when the final encounter with police occurred.

Orth’s attorney, Tom Viner, declined comment on the charges Friday. He said Orth made an initial court appearance and was released pending further proceedings.

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