- Associated Press - Sunday, December 4, 2016

FOREST CITY, Iowa (AP) - More than five years after a fire that damaged the Forest City police station, arson and burglary charges against a former officer with the department have been dismissed.

Prosecutors have determined that without a confession and other evidence previously thrown out by state courts, they cannot get a conviction against Thaddeus Ellenbecker, the Mason City Globe Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/2gQihO4 ) Friday.

Ellenbecker, 39, was suspected in a string of incidents after joining the Forest City police force in 2009, including a fire that broke out in the station’s evidence room shortly after he completed a shift on Oct. 1, 2011.

Based on that and other incidents, the police chief asked for a state Division of Criminal Investigation probe of Ellenbecker.

Ellenbecker denied involvement in the arson and walked out of an interview after failing a polygraph test. A DCI agent followed him out, walking with him seven blocks to Ellenbecker’s apartment. At the complex, Ellenbecker went inside to speak with his wife, then later emerged and pulled his coat back to reveal he had a handgun. Callaway pinned Ellenbecker against a door to prevent him from pulling the gun, and another agent arrived and shot Ellenbecker in the leg.

Ellenbecker was questioned for hours while in the hospital for treatment of the gunshot wound and while under the influence of powerful painkillers. Police said he confessed during that questioning, and Ellenbecker was convicted in 2012.

But in 2014, the Iowa Court of Appeals ordered a new trial because officers didn’t read Ellenbecker his Miranda rights. Last year, a judge ruled there was no probable cause for a search that turned up a stolen rifle, because the search stemmed from the invalid confession, so it could not be admitted into evidence.

Both Winnebago County Attorney Adam Sauer and Ellenbecker’s attorney, Steven Kloberdanz, declined comment to the newspaper on the dismissal of the charges.

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Information from: Globe Gazette, https://www.globegazette.com/

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