State’s Attorney: Officers justified in shooting death of DeShawn Tatum

Local News

UPDATE: A police shooting in Rock Island that left a 25-year-old man dead earlier this month has been deemed justified.

The officers involved will not face charges and will return to active duty immediately.

The Rock Island County State’s Attorney also released video from the day DeShawn Tatum was killed by police near 11th Street and 31st Avenue.

Police say Tatum hijacked a car at the Chicken Shack at Kum & Shop, then dragged some officers while trying to get away before finally backing into the nearby gas station.

That’s when officers opened fire, striking Tatum six times in the head and chest.

Since the deadly encounter April 1, Rock Island County has been doing an internal investigation.

Investigators revealed some of the body cam footage.

In it, you can see Tatum evading officers as they give chase from the cemetery to the convenience store, restaurant and gas station.

At that point, authorities say, he forced himself into a car.

When officers tried to pull Tatum out, he accelerated soon after and you can see officers being dragged. At points, they’re under the vehicle — and police opened fire on Tatum.

According to officials, Tatum’s family has already seen some of the body cam footage of the interaction.

Rock Island County State’s Attorney Dora Villarreal’s report provided details of the encounter before coming to a conclusion.

“The evidence in this case shows that Tatum would not relent in his attempt to escape and that he fully intended to hurt the officers and/or force the officers to hurt him, making their decisions to use deadly force objectively reasonable,” Villarreal’s report stated. “The statements of Officers [Paul] Scully, [Jacob] Waddle, [Andrew] Lawler and [Zachary] Costas corroborate the conclusion that the use of deadly force was objectively reasonable.”

“During the collision, Scully and Waddle were dragged and appeared to be underneath the white vehicle. Upon closer examination of Waddle’s body camera footage, Tatum is seen grabbing and pushing the slide on the officer’s duty weapon which causes a shot to fire in the vehicle. This shot is believed to be the one that grazed Officer Costas on his right temple as he stood outside of the vehicle during the crash. After Waddle’s weapon was fired, it is seen flying out of his hands with the clip falling out—presumably caused by the forceful collision of the vehicle into the building or the attempt to remove Tatum from the car.”

EARLIER UPDATE: The Rock Island County State’s Attorney has determined that officers were justified in using deadly force in the April 1 shooting death of DeShawn Tatum.

Tatum, 25, was shot six times.

Rock Island County State’s Attorney Dora Villarreal said the officers involved will not face charges.

“The evidence in this case shows that Tatum would not relent in his attempt to escape and that he fully intended to hurt the officers and/or force the officers to hurt him, making their decisions to use deadly force objectively reasonable,” Villarreal’s report stated. “The statements of Officers [Paul] Scully, [Jacob] Waddle, [Andrew] Lawler and [Zachary] Costas corroborate the conclusion that the use of deadly force was objectively reasonable.”

The Rock Island Police Department released a statement Wednesday afternoon:

On April 1, 2020 at approximately 6:19 p.m., Rock Island Police Officers located DeShawn L. Tatum, who was wanted on Federal firearms charges, along with multiple local warrants. Mr. Tatum was also a suspect in multiple other firearms related criminal cases and had recently posted a video on social media displaying a firearm and threatening police. When Officers Andrew Lawler, Zachary Costas, Paul Scully and Jacob Waddle attempted to apprehend Mr. Tatum in the 1200 block of 31st Avenue he ran from officers and was seen holding a handgun. Officers pursued Mr. Tatum to a gas station at 2961 11th Street where he hijacked a car in the parking lot. As officers attempted to extract Mr. Tatum from the car, he put car into reverse and dragged Officers Waddle and Scully until it crashed into the gas station building. Officers Waddle, Scully and Lawler discharged their firearms at Mr. Tatum striking him several times and mortally wounding him. Officers Waddle, Scully and Costas sustained serious but non-life threatening injuries during the incident.

Chief of Police Jeffrey R. VenHuizen immediately requested the activation of the Rock Island County Integrity Task Force to conduct an external investigation regarding the Officers’ use of deadly force. The findings of that investigation were turned over to the Rock Island State’s Attorney where it has subsequently been determined that each Officer’s actions were justifiable under state law.

A separate internal investigation was conducted by the Rock Island Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards regarding adherence to Departmental policies with respect to the use of deadly force. That investigation determined each Officer acted in accordance with departmental policies. The involved Officers were placed on restrictive duty status during the investigatory process. The Officers will subsequently be returning to active duty status.

Tune in to Local 4 News at 5 for more coverage.

Another angle of the crash at 5th and Pershing on August 3, 2021. (Bryan Bobb, OurQuadCities.com)

This is a developing story. Stay tuned to Local 4 News, Fox 18 News and OurQuadCities.com for updates. Got a news tip? Forward it to Local 4 on Twitter or Facebook or download our app on your iPhone or Android phone. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories