DES MOINES, Iowa -- On August 21, 2015, the Iowa Attorney General’s Office completed a review of the circumstances of a shooting incident that occurred in the parking lot of the New World Lounge, in Waterloo, on Sunday, April 05, 2015. The incident involved Jovan Webb and Waterloo Police Officers Steve Nissen, Thomas Frein and Steve Bose. This review was to determine if criminal charges were justified against the officers who interacted with Jovan Webb. At the request of the Waterloo Police Department, the incident was investigated by the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI). The Attorney General’s Office decision in this matter was made after reviewing the following information:
- Relevant background information on Jovan Webb including any previous encounters with law enforcement.
- Information relating to the reason law enforcement engaged Mr. Webb on April 5, 2015.
- The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) conducted a thorough investigation of the shooting incident. The reports, recorded interviews and any other documentation generated or collected have been reviewed prior to making any decision in this case.
- Multiple videos recovered from patrol cars and from the New World Lounge.
In the early morning hours of April 5, 2015, Waterloo police were called to the New World Lounge at 504 Riehl Street in Waterloo. The nature of the call was that there was a large group of people potentially engaged in a fight. There was also a report that gunshots had been fired near the same location. Among those officers responding were Officer Mark Nissen, Officer Thomas Frein and Officer Steve Bose.
Officers arrived in the area of the New World Lounge at varying times. Nissen was the first officer to observe Webb who was seated on the driver’s side of his vehicle parked in the lot of New World Lounge. Nissen approached Webb, identified himself as a police officer and shined his flashlight into the vehicle. Nissen observed an open container of alcohol. Nissen, who was in plain clothes with a police badge attached to his collar, attempted to engage Webb. Webb drove from the area. Nissen called for assistance to stop the vehicle Webb was driving. Officer Bose, who was in full uniform, stepped in front of the vehicle on the driver side and placed his hand on the front hood. This encounter took place a short distance from where Nissen first observed Webb and was near the entrance to the parking lot for New World Lounge just off Broadway. For a very brief time, Webb stopped the vehicle, however, continued to bump into Bose with his vehicle hitting Bose in the lower leg. Nissen caught up to Webb’s vehicle and approached the passenger side. Nissen attempted to get the attention of Webb with no success. Officer Frein was also on the passenger side of the vehicle observing the interaction between Officers Nissen, Bose and Jovan Webb. Both Bose and Nissen attempted to get Webb to exit the vehicle. Webb did not comply. Both Bose and Nissen report that Webb was attempting to gain access to something that was located on his right side as they both observed Webb reaching in that area. After hitting Bose several times with his vehicle, Webb then sped off turning west onto Broadway. When he did so, Bose had to dive to the ground on the driver side. By doing so, Nissen and Frein lost sight of Bose. As Webb began to drive away, Nissen pulled his service weapon and fired four shots through the windshield toward Webb. Immediately after, Frein followed the vehicle on foot and fired three shots into the vehicle. Both Nissen and Frein indicated that they believed Bose had been hit by Webb, possibly that Bose may have been run over or was potentially being dragged by the vehicle driven by Webb.
Webb drove himself to Allen Hospital where he was treated for multiple gunshot wounds. Webb survived the shooting.
Bose received an abrasion to his knee and soreness in his shoulder from the fall to the ground. He was treated and released from a local hospital.
It was determined that Webb was armed with a five shot .22 caliber derringer type pistol. The pistol was found on the driver side floor of the vehicle being driven by Webb when it was searched at Allen Hospital. The pistol was tested and it operated as intended. Also located in the vehicle were two opened bottles of partially consumed liquor.
In order to be justified, the force used by the Waterloo police officers must have been reasonable. Reasonable force is that force which a reasonable person, in like circumstances, would judge to be necessary to prevent an injury or loss and can include deadly force if (1) 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; (2) it is reasonable to believe that such force is necessary to resist a like force or threat; (3) if an available alternative course of action entails a risk to life or safety or the life or safety of a third party; or (4) the alternative course of action requires one to retreat from one's dwelling or place of business. Iowa Code Sections 704.1, 704.2 and 704.3 and State v. Harris, 222 N.W.2d 462 (Iowa 1974).
Based on the Attorney General’s Office review of the case with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), and a full review of the facts and circumstances surrounding the shooting incident involving Officers Nissen, Frein and Bose and Jovan Webb, the force used by the officers was justified and was not a criminal act. The actions of the officers were reasonable under the circumstances. Based upon their vantage point and the circumstances of the contact with Webb, the officers reasonably believed that Officer Bose’s life was threatened just before gunshots were fired at Webb. From their vantage point, it appeared that Bose was either in the process of being run over, or was potentially being dragged by the vehicle driven by Webb. Even if Webb believed that Nissen may not have been a police officer, it would have been readily recognizable that Bose was in full uniform and attempting to stop Webb. Bose was directly in front of Webb and clearly visible. There was also a large police presence in the area which would lead any reasonable person to believe that other officers were in the immediate area.
The Iowa Attorney General’s Office considers the criminal investigation into the officers’ conduct closed. A decision regarding criminal charges against Jovan Webb will be forthcoming.