Body camera footage released in death of Maquoketa man

The family of Drew Edwards, 22, of Maquoketa, say officers with the Maquoketa Police Department...
The family of Drew Edwards, 22, of Maquoketa, say officers with the Maquoketa Police Department and Jackson County Sheriff's Office used excessive force when a Taser was used on him and that it contributed to his death. (KWQC/Contributed)(KWQC)
Published: Jan. 24, 2020 at 8:09 PM CST
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A lawyer for the family of a Maquoketa man who died after an incident with police in June 2019 has released body camera footage that shows the moments leading up to his death.

Cedar Rapids attorney David O'Brien released the video of the arrest of

, 22, as part of the family's amended wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Maquoketa, Jackson County, Maquoketa officers Brendan Zeimet and Mike Owen, and Jackson County Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Schroeder.

The suit, originally filed in October in U.S. District Court, Dubuque, alleges that the officers used excessive force when a Taser was used on Edwards and that it contributed to his death.

O’Brien said Friday he does not think the family will watch the video but said they “always wanted it out there.”

The video, he said, is “horrendous” to watch.

“But, there’s no other way to hold police officers and government officials accountable if we don’t release the information that shows when they’re doing wrong,” he said. “So you can watch the video and make your own judgments.”

On June 15, 2019, Owen and Schroeder responded to an altercation involving Edwards at a home on West Apple Street.

Investigators say Edwards resisted arrest and a Taser was used.

When that didn’t work, they had to hold him down to try and get him handcuffed, according to investigators.

Investigators say soon after his arrest, Edwards began showing signs of a medical episode, and they called for emergency medical help.

He died at a local hospital. The autopsy showed Edwards died of cardiac arrest and had methamphetamine, ecstasy, and marijuana in his system.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation investigated the incident and Muscatine County Attorney Alan Ostergren, who was asked to conduct a review due to staffing issues in the attorney general’s office, cleared the officers of criminal wrongdoing.

TV-6 reached out to Ostergren about the lawsuit. He declined to comment.

According to the amended lawsuit, Edwards had a heart condition and was hospitalized twice before when a Taser was used on him in 2016 and 2018.

The suit alleges the officers knew about his prior hospitalizations and that Zeimet was involved in the two previous incidents.

“Despite the knowledge of Edwards’ heart condition, Defendant Owen repeatedly tased Edwards using both sets of taser prongs of a double-barrel taser capable of firing two separate set of prongs connected by wire to the taser and allowing two separate sources of electric shock,” the lawsuit states.

In the video, Owen and Schroeder repeatedly tell Edwards that he is under arrest. He told them, “Why would I go to jail if I didn’t do nothing.”

Owen then took out his Taser and ordered Edwards multiple times to get on the ground, before deploying his Taser, the video shows.

Schroeder and Owen had "no reason to believe" that Edwards was a threat to them or anyone else at the time they attempted to place him under arrest and no other officers present said Edwards ever hit, kicked, punched or threatened them in any way, according to the suit.

Zeimet went “hands-on” and assisted in restraining and handcuffing Edwards when he arrived on the scene, according to the lawsuit.

“None of Edwards conduct justifies the use of deadly force inflicted upon him in response,” according to the lawsuit.

The suit also alleges that the City of Maquoketa twice refused to produce the material regarding Edwards’ death, contrary to Iowa law and Iowa Supreme Court precedent.

The attorneys for Maquoketa, Zeimet and Owen filed a response FEb. 12 in U.S. District Court in Dubuque.

They claim in the filing the actions taken by the officers were discretionary and done in good faith and that they are entitled to immunity.

They also said the officers “exercised with all due care to conform to the requirements of the law in connection with any and all interactions with Drew Edwards.”

The attorneys for Jackson County and Schroeder filed a similar response on Feb. 10.

The case is slated to go to trial April 5, 2021.

TV6 Investigates received Taser policies from the Maquoketa Police Department and Jackson County Sheriff’s Office through an open records request.

Maquoketa Police Chief Brad Koranda, responding to the request, said “we had officers unholster their Taser 16 times. Out of those 16 times, two Taser deployments occurred on a subject.

“In 2019 we had officers unholster their Taser 19 times. Out of those 19 times, eight Taser deployments occurred on a subject.”

to watch the entire video released by O'Brien.