The Scott County Attorney’s Office has ruled that a Bettendorf police officer’s use of deadly force during an incident involving a suicidal man at Home Depot in December was justified.
“Based on the investigation, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and Scott County Attorney concur that the evidence shows that (Lt. Kent) Keeshan’s use of deadly force was reasonable under the circumstances,” Scott County Attorney Mike Walton said late Tuesday afternoon in a news release. “He believed it was necessary to resist a like force or threat and to avoid injury or death to himself or others.”
The man who was shot, Joshua Gregory Price, 19, of Bettendorf, was taken into custody Tuesday after his release from University Hospitals, Iowa City, Bettendorf Police Capt. Keith Kimball said.
Scott County Jail online records show that Price was booked around 2:30 p.m. on charges of second-degree burglary, third-degree kidnapping, assault while participating in a felony and assault on a police officer, a serious misdemeanor.
He was being held in lieu of bond. He is expected to appear in court Wednesday.
According to Walton’s news release:
At 9:52 p.m. Dec. 19, Price called 911 and reported that a person at Hobby Lobby, 2121 Kimberly Road, Bettendorf, was in distress and possibly suicidal.
He did not identify himself by name but provided a phone number and a vehicle description.
Bettendorf police responded to the store and made contact with Price, who appeared to be in an agitated state.
Police talked to Price and were able to make contact with his family. Things “settled down,” and Price indicated he wanted to go home. Having no basis for arrest or other commitment, police and his family determined that he should go home.
The incident ended about 10:20 p.m.
At 10:32 p.m., Price went into nearby Home Depot, 920 Middle Road, through a receiving door. The store was closed, and he did not have permission to enter the store.
He was in the building for approximately 40 minutes before he used the intercom to ask for the manager to go to the break room.
The manger went to the break room and made contact with Price. Price took a gun from inside his coveralls and instructed the manager to evacuate the building.
He said that he wasn’t going to hurt anyone but that he was either going to commit suicide or have the police kill him.
About 11:35 p.m., Bettendorf Police Officer Zach Schwarz was flagged down by a Home Depot employee, who said the store manager had told everyone to evacuate. Schwarz learned that Price, a former employee, was involved in the disturbance.
Two minutes later, Schwarz went into the store; other officers arrived shortly after.
At 11:41 p.m., officers made contact with the store manager and Price. Price was holding what appeared to be a handgun and was walking behind the manager, who had his hands up and was walking down an aisle toward the officers.
After contact was made with officers, Price told the manager he could go and “it was nice knowing him.”
For about eight minutes, officers negotiated with Price and gave him repeated commands to drop the gun. He made it clear he wanted to die and ignored all commands.
Keeshan radioed for “less than lethal force” options, and it was determined that a stun gun was not appropriate under the circumstances for various reasons, including the fact that Price appeared to be armed, was wearing heavy coveralls and obtaining safe distance and trajectory was too risky.
At 11:49 p.m. Officer Kevin Hopkins shot a less than lethal, 40mm rubber projectile at Price, striking him in the leg. The projectile had little effect on him, and he began running toward the front of the store.
At 11:50 p.m., Keeshan gave Price several commands to show his hands and get on the ground. Price then turned, faced the officer and raised his gun toward him.
Keeshan fired his gun four times at Price, who was wounded in the chin, right hand and upper right arm area.
Officers immediately approached Price to secure him and began provide medical aid. They learned that Price was armed with an airsoft gun that was modified to look like a handgun.
Suicide notes to his family and police were found in Price’s pocket. Price apologized to police for “causing them to shoot him,” according to the release.
No officers or employees of Home Depot were harmed or injured.
Keeshan, a 22-year veteran of the Bettendorf Police Department, remained on paid administrative leave Tuesday, Kimball said.