A Davenport man shot by a Silvis police officer in December charged the officer with a vehicle and was illegally armed, according to a report from the Rock Island County State’s Attorney’s Office, which Monday ruled the officer's actions justified.
The shooting happened about 9:30 p.m. Dec. 23, when the officer, John VanHyning, attempted a traffic stop on a vehicle in the north alley of the 900 block of 1st Avenue in Silvis, according to the Rock Island County Integrity Task Force, a special unit formed to investigate such incidents. Evidence gathered during the investigation indicates Devin Michael Lovgren — identified as the driver — turned the vehicle around and sped toward VanHyning, prompting the officer to fire his weapon.
Lovgren was shot in the leg but drove away. He is also accused of attempting to flee police in Colona, but authorities say he crashed his vehicle and was captured.
"It is the state's attorney's finding that Officer VanHyning was objectively reasonable in using deadly force," Rock Island County State’s Attorney John McGehee said in the report, which was released Monday.
Once the task force completes an investigation into an incident involving law enforcement, it hands the investigation to the state’s attorney’s office for a ruling on whether the actions of the officer in question were justified.
McGehee states in his report that case law defines a vehicle as a dangerous weapon, and Lovgren, a felon, is alleged to have had a sawed-off shotgun and shotgun ammunition in the vehicle. Both weapon and ammunition were recovered after Lovgren's arrest.
"This trained law enforcement officer made, using experience and knowledge, a rational decision that Lovgren posed a serious threat to his survival and safety," the report states and added that Lovgren continued to pose a public danger after escaping.
The state's attorney's report provided more detail of what authorities believe occurred that night.
VanHyning was performing traffic enforcement in the 1100 block of 1st Avenue in Silvis when he saw a westbound Hyundai Elantra with a loud exhaust. He began to follow.
The report states the driver of the vehicle, previously described by authorities as a Subaru Outback, turned into the parking lot of the Silvis post office, turned into an alley and accelerated in the opposite direction it had been going when first observed by VanHyning. The officer then attempted the traffic stop.
After VanHyning turned on his lights, the driver traveled about two more blocks before turning onto a gravel road that was a dead end, the report states. VanHyning stopped his squad car at the entrance to the gravel road and got out.
There is an apartment building near where the encounter occurred, the report states. People there gave similar accounts of what they witnessed when interviewed later by the task force.
Lovgren turned the Elantra around until it faced the officer, the report states. He revved the vehicle’s engine in what the report described as a taunt toward VanHyning, who ordered Lovgren to leave the Elantra.
Lovgren then appeared to reach toward the passenger side as if trying to get something and VanHyning drew his pistol. The officer reported later he could see Lovgren looking at him with a blank stare, then VanHyning heard gravel hitting nearby buildings as the Elantra’s tires began to spin.
The Elantra came toward him, and VanHyning fired his pistol seven to eight times, then jumped out of the way, the report states. Lovgren then drove off. VanHyning reported in but did not pursue because he was not sure where Lovgren went.
The report states VanHyning shot the vehicle four times. It did not say how many rounds hit Lovgren.
It was not long after that Lovgren fled from and was captured by Colona police, the report states. The shotgun and ammunition were recovered — some along the path of the pursuit and more in the Elantra.
A passenger in the Elantra was also taken into custody but was not identified in the report.
McGehee said no decision had been made on whether charges would be filed in Rock Island County because of the events of Dec. 23. Lovgren is in federal custody.
At the time of the traffic stop, Lovgren was wanted for federal probation violation.
Lovgren was released from federal prison in October after serving a sentence on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, federal records state. After his release, urine samples Lovgren was required to provide to federal authorities tested positive for methamphetamine.
The warrant was issued for his arrest in November after he failed to appear for two scheduled drug tests and for failing to report a change of address, federal records state.
On Feb. 7, his supervised release was revoked and he was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and another 18 months of supervised release after that.
In the weeks after the shooting, the Henry County State's Attorney's Office charged Lovgren with aggravated fleeing and eluding, criminal damage to state supported property, obstructing justice and traffic citations, the task force states.
An update on that case was not available Monday.