- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 14, 2016

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) - The Des Moines County attorney has agreed to pay a $200 fine but not admit guilt in an open-records case stemming from a 2015 fatal police shooting.

Burlington Officer Jesse Hill accidentally shot 34-year-old Autumn Steele in January 2015 while responding to a fight between Steele and her husband. Des Moines County Attorney Amy Beavers cleared Hill, allowing him to return to the police force, The Hawk Eye newspaper (https://bit.ly/2hwkEX7 ) reported.

Steele’s family and the newspaper requested copies of all public records related to the incident, including police audio recordings, body camera footage and investigative reports. Beavers denied the requests, saying her office did not have the shooting-related files anymore because they were handed back to the investigating agencies.

But an investigation led by the Iowa Public Information Board concluded the records were still in Beavers’ office when the requests were made.

A complaint said Beavers, the Burlington Police Department and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation violated the state’s open-records law by denying records requests. The agencies said they satisfied Iowa law by releasing a 12-second body camera video of the incident.

The Public Information Board’s investigation of the agencies is ongoing, according to Mark McCormick, a special prosecutor named to help the board. A hearing before an administrative law judge has not been set.

In addition to the fine, Beavers told the board she has “created a new office policy concerning open records requests.” Beavers said she thinks the records should not open to the public because they are investigative files protected under state law.

The proposed agreement with Beavers will go to a vote at a board meeting on Thursday.


Information from: The Hawk Eye, https://www.thehawkeye.com

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