The man accused of the April 25 shooting of Davenport Police Officer Ryan Leabo told police in an interview that he was trying to get the officer to shoot him, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Scott County Attorney’s Office.
The statement goes on to say that Leabo’s use of force against Brett Samuel Dennis Sr. 27, was “reasonable and justified” under the circumstances.
“It was necessary to resist deadly force and to avoid further injury or death to himself, other officers, and the community,” the statement said.
The statement was issued after an investigation by the Scott County Sheriff’s Department and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.
Leabo remains on paid leave. According to the statement, the bullet that struck Leabo in the leg went into his foot, and was still there at the time of the report. Another bullet fired by Dennis struck Leabo in the chest, but his bullet-proof vest stopped the bullet.
Dennis told officers after his arrest that he had used methamphetamine at about 2 p.m. that day, and that he knew he was wanted by police.
Dennis had outstanding warrants of driving while barred, eluding, having no registration, first-degree harassment, violating a domestic protective order, fifth-degree criminal mischief, and failure to pay child support. While failing to pay child support is a civil matter, the rest of the charges misdemeanors, with the most serious being the driving while barred and first-degree harassment, each of which carries a prison sentence of up to two years.
He told police during his interview that once the charges were “stacked against him,” he decided he was not going back to prison and tried to get the officer to shoot him. Dennis told police that when he was running he decided to mess with his satchel in an attempt to get Leabo to shoot him.
According to the statement, at about 4:20 p.m. on April 25, Dennis and Nathaniel Osman Viering, 27, were seen by Davenport Police Lt. Kevin Smull walking in the area of West 17th Street and North Sturdevant Street.
Smull first observed them coming out of an alleyway on the 1600 block of North Sturdevant Street. Both men were looking around, and Dennis continuously played with a “fanny pack” he had slung over his shoulder.
Smull watched as the two men got into a vehicle and begin rummaging through it. Smull had Leabo, who was also patrolling in the area, run the registration of the vehicle, which came back to a woman who does not live in the area where the vehicle was parked.
According to the statement, Smull and Leabo were in the area as an extra patrol due to an increase in shootings and calls for service in the area.
After rummaging through the vehicle, Dennis and Viering walked away and went to a nearby Wendy’s restaurant, where they stayed for about one minute.
Smull told Leabo to attempt what is known as a “Terry stop.” A “Terry stop” is when a police officer stops a person because there is reasonable suspicion that the person is conducting or has been engaged in criminal activity.
Leabo tried to get the Dennis and Viering to stop and talk to him but they kept walking away.
Leabo parked his car and walked after the men on foot.
When Leabo asked the men a third time to stop, Dennis turned around and told Leabo no.
When the two men got to the intersection of 17th and Sturdevant streets, they walked into the street in front of a vehicle to avoid Leabo. The vehicle had to stop to keep from hitting them.
Leabo asked the men to stop a total of 11 times, but Dennis and Viering continued to walk fast and then run away.
Smull came into the area in his vehicle and Leabo began chasing Dennis.
As Dennis was running, he removed the “fanny pack” he was wearing across his body to the front of his chest and his hands were around it during most of the chase. Dennis was not running at full speed and was continuously looking back at Leabo while his hands were on or in the “fanny pack.”
Leabo yelled at Dennis several times to drop what he had in his hands, but Dennis yelled back at Leabo, “shoot me,” with an expletive added to it.
Dennis ran up against a fence and Leabo wrapped both of his arms around the man from behind. Leabo then saw that Dennis was armed. The men began to struggle, and Dennis maneuvered around to where he faced Leabo. Dennis fired a shot that hit Leabo in the leg. A second shot struck Leabo in the chest, but that bullet was stopped by his bullet-proof vest.
Leabo fired at Dennis, striking him in the leg.
After the shooting, Dennis ran away. A nearby homeowner saw Dennis with the gun in his hand and watched as Dennis took cover behind a tree. The homeowner described Dennis as taking an “ambush position” behind the tree. The homeowner yelled to Leabo to stay back because Dennis was waiting for him to come around the corner. When Leabo did not come, Dennis ran into the CVS store, where he told an employee not to call 911 but told them he had been “jumped by some people outside.”
Dennis later left the store and hid the firearm before being captured.
In addition to the charges already filed against him, Dennis is now charged with attempted murder of a peace officer. The charge is a Class B felony under Iowa law that carries a prison sentence of 25 years. According to Iowa code, 100 percent of the sentence must be served.
Dennis also is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, a Class D felony that carries a prison sentence of up to five years.
Charges of trafficking in stolen weapons, possession of methamphetamine and interference with official acts while armed with a dangerous weapon will be added to the trial information when they're filed by the Scott County Attorney’s Office, according to the statement.
Dennis was being held Tuesday night in the Scott County Jail on cash-only bonds totaling $53,500, and a cash or surety bond of $2,000.
Viering is charged with possession with the intent to deliver methamphetamine, a Class C felony that carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years. He also is charged with interference with official acts, possession, second offense, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
At the time of the shooting, Viering was out on pretrial release after he was arrested Feb. 10 on a Bettendorf Police warrant on a charge of second-degree theft. In that case, Viering and a co-defendant had a Dell laptop computer that had been stolen in a burglary of the Bettendorf Community School District at 2727 Tanglefoot Lane. On Dec. 24, Viering and his co-defendant tried to pawn the computer at Pawn King located at 1611 W. Locust St., Davenport.
Vieirng was being held Tuesday night in the Scott County Jail on a $10,000 cash-only bond, and a bond of $5,000, cash or surety.