Scott County Attorney concludes Bettendorf police officer’s ‘use of deadly force was justified’

Local News

Scott County Attorney Michael J. Walton announced Friday that he concluded the use of deadly force was justified in the September 3 shooting death of Timothy Clevenger by Bettendorf police officer Patrick Mesick.

Clevenger, 53, of Silvis, was killed after officers responded to a Bettendorf home at 1111 16 1/2 Street, where a daycare operated. Clevenger held a sharp-edged weapon to the throat of a 4-year-old, police said, and was “an immediate danger to those around him.”

Clevenger was struck once and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mesick has been on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.

Here is the full news release from Scott County Attorney Michael J. Walton:

The following is a summary of the officer involved shooting investigation by the Iowa Division of
Criminal Investigation.

On September 3, 2020, at approximately, 11:58 A.M., the Bettendorf Police Department was dispatched to 1111 16 ½ St. 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. Mr. Clevenger 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 Mr. 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 Mr. Clevenger’s motives and his actions that led up to the hostage situation at 1111 16 ½ St. in Bettendorf.

Hostage witnesses reported to police that Mr. 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. Mr. 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 Mr. 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 Mr. Clevenger as seen by Officer Mesick upon entry of the residence, was captured on video. Investigators obtained evidence that Mr. Clevenger had purchased the fillet knife and machete at astore that same morning at 11:43 A.M. Investigators also discovered a video file on a thumb drive that had been recorded prior to the hostage incident by Mr. Clevenger. The file name was “Tim’s final thoughts.” It was a 30 minute video in which Mr. Clevenger expressed frustration and anger with things going on his personal life. At one point in the video, Mr. 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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