Bettendorf police continue to investigate an incident that led to a three-hour standoff Wednesday in which a man they were talking to may have taken his own life, Police Chief Phil Redington said Thursday night.
“Officially, we’re not classifying it as a suicide because the investigation is ongoing,” Redington said. “However, we don’t suspect foul play.”
The Scott County Medical Examiner’s Office needs to complete its investigation as well, he said.
Redington said he could not release the man’s name or address because the department’s policy in a possible suicide is not to do so.
The incident began about 3 p.m. in the 5500 block of Joshua Street after a member of the man’s family called police complaining that the man had pulled a gun and made threatening motions with it at the family member.
“There were no witnesses to the event to back up the complaint, and after consulting with Mike Walton (Scott County Attorney) it was determined not to prosecute,” Redington said. “We agreed with and understand that decision.”
Members of Davenport’s Tactical Operations Bureau, as well as the Scott County Emergency Command Mobile Command Center, with backup from the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Department, were at the scene with Bettendorf police until 6:10 p.m., when authorities determined they could do no more and left, Redington said.
“No charges were forthcoming,” he said. “No criminal acts had been committed. He had not threatened neighbors or himself.
“He was not going to come out and we could not legally enter the house,” Redington said. “He was legally in his home and didn’t want to cooperate with us. We couldn’t go into his house and we really couldn’t go on his property.
“Had he threatened anyone, we would have stayed there,” Redington said. “We lost contact with him around 4:30-4:35 p.m.”
About an hour after police left, he said, a friend found the man dead. A cause of death was not released.
It is hoped an autopsy will be able to tell when he died, he added.
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“It is an unfortunate situation,” Redington said.
Contrary to popular belief, he said, “police officers don’t have unlimited authority. We could not go into the house to check on his welfare, as he hadn’t threatened to harm himself. He hadn’t threatened us, and he hadn’t threatened the neighbors.”
Under those circumstances, police have no authority to enter someone’s house, Redington said, “and we don’t believe we should have that authority” because the chances of abuse would be too great.
There is no set protocol for such situations, because each standoff situation is different, Redington said.
As with any critical incident, heads of the Bettendorf police divisions will review the incident to see what they can learn for any future incidents, he added.
“We do that with any critical incident,” Redington said. “But once it was determined that no laws had been violated we had no authority to do anything more.”