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Authorities say Iowa cop who shot man with apparent death wish was justified in shooting

This news story was published on October 4, 2020.
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BETTENDORF – Authorities say an Iowa cop who shot a man with an apparent death wish was justified in shooting.

Authorities say the facts of the case state that on September 3, 2020, at approximately, 11 58 A.M., the Bettendorf Police Department was dispatched to 1111 16 1/2 Street in Bettendorf, after a 911 call had been placed asking for officer assistance. Information was relayed that a male subject was holding a knife to the throat of a four-year-old child. Multiple officers responded to the call, including Officer Patrick Mesick. Officers were able to take up position inside the opened garage and could hear screaming coming from inside of the house at that time. Officer Mesick attempted to open the unlocked door and it was quickly slammed shut from the inside. At that time he heard a male voice yelling from the other side of the door. Officers announced themselves and ordered the door to be opened. Officers had to use force to open the door. Once inside, officer Mesick could immediately see a white male kneeling behind a young girl with a black handled item being held to the young girl’s neck and a black handled machete was being held against the girl’s torso. Officer Mesick could also see an adult female and male child at the bottom of the basement steps. Officers ordered the male to show them his hands and the male did not respond. At that time. Officer Mesick fired one round with his rifle, striking the male. The young girl was immediately taken out of the residence and officers discovered that four other children and three adults had been inside of the residence in the basement they had been ordered to the basement by the male. The male was later identified as Timothy Clevenger, who died as a result of the gunshot wound. The black handled item held to the young girl’s neck was discovered to be a knife sheath for a fillet knife that was found near Clevenger.

An investigation was conducted by Iowa Department of Public Safety, Division of Criminal Investigations. The investigators obtained the hostage witnesses’ accounts, they reviewed body camera footage of the responding officers and obtained information regarding Clevenger’s motives and his actions that led up to the hostage situation at crime scene. Hostage witnesses reported to police that Clevenger had come to the residence that morning and appeared to be on a mission. Clevenger brandished the knife, grabbed the 4-year-old little girl by the throat, and ordered them at knife point to the basement. Clevenger had ordered one of the residents of the house to call someone in order to have him bring guns to the residence. The resident reported to police that Clevenger had the knife at the young girl’s throat when he ordered the phone call.

Body camera footage was reviewed and the officers’ actions that day, along with the actions of Clevenger as seen by Officer Mesick upon entry of the residence, was captured on video.

Investigators obtained evidence that Clevenger had purchased the fillet knife and machete at a store that same morning at 11:43 AM. Investigators also discovered a video file on a thumb drive that had been recorded prior to the hostage incident by Clevenger. The file name was “Tim’s final thoughts.” It was a 30 minute video in which Clevenger expressed frustration and anger with things going on his personal life At one point in the video, Clevenger said “Justice will be served and I will be the one to serve it and later stated that ‘Innocent people may die.”

Legal Conclusion Iowa Code Section 704.1 defines reasonable force. “Reasonable force’ is that force and no more which a reasonable person, in like circumstances, would judge to be necessary to prevent an injury or loss and can include deadly force if it is reasonable to believe that such force is necessary to avoid injury or risk to one’s life or safety or the life or safety of another. or it is reasonable to believe that such force is necessary to resist a like force or threat. Reasonable force, including deadly force, may be used even if an alternative course of action is available if the alternative entails a risk to life or safety, or the life or safety of a third party, or requires one to abandon or retreat from one’s dwelling or place of business or employment.

The evidence in this case shows the use of deadly force by Officer Mesick was justified and reasonable under the circumstances. The actions by Timothy Clevenger put the lives and physical safety of the occupants of that residence in immediate danger It was reasonable for Officer Mesick to fire his weapon to prevent injury or death of that little girl and others in the residence.

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