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Prosecutors: Fatal shooting of Bettendorf man by officer was ‘reasonable,’ ‘justified’

Published: May. 6, 2021 at 12:27 PM CDT|Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 10:38 PM CDT
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BETTENDORF, Iowa (KWQC) - The fatal shooting of 49-year-old Brian Gregory Scott by a Bettendorf officer in February has been deemed justified by the Scott County Attorney’s Office.

“The evidence in this case shows that the use of force used by Officer (Zachary) Gish was reasonable and justified,” First Assistant Scott County Attorney Amy DeVine said during a press conference.

Gish, a three-year veteran of the department, has been on administrative leave while the shooting was under investigation by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. Police Chief Keith Kimball said he is now back to full duty.

During Thursday’s press conference, DeVine laid out what happened leading up to the shooting and played 911 audio and body camera footage.

According to DeVine:

Around 12:18 a.m. Feb. 7, officers responded to a home in the 2100 block of Central Avenue in Bettendorf for a reported domestic incident.

The person who called 911 was frantic and said a man, identified as Scott, was trying to kill her mother. The information relayed to officers is that the woman was possibly kidnapped, and Scott was armed with a gun. They also got a description of a vehicle.

A man at the scene also said Scott had called him and threatened to kill him.

Officers looked for the vehicle and tried to ping the woman’s phone but were unable to locate her.

About 90 minutes later, a second 911 call was placed by a caller who said a suspicious vehicle had been sitting in the parking lot of Georgian Square for an hour.

Officers responded to the parking lot and found the vehicle, which matched the description of the vehicle involved in the earlier domestic incident.

The vehicle, a black Mazda CX-9, belonged to the woman, who was on the passenger side of the car. Scott was in the driver’s seat.

Officers asked Scott to step out of the vehicle so they could ask him about the call they received about the earlier incident, but he refused to get out of the car.

Officers asked if the woman could come out of the car, and Scott said no. They asked multiple times if she could get out of the car and Scott asked why she had to leave, before rolling up his window.

After nearly three minutes, officers were able to get the woman out of the vehicle and took her to a squad car. Officers continued to speak to Scott through the window, which he slightly lowered again, and were trying to get information from him about the earlier incident.

Scott told the officers that the woman had come with him willingly and he had done nothing wrong.

The woman said Scott had a gun, had put it to her head, and threatened to kill her with it. She said he had also threatened to kill her children, her mother, and himself.

She also said he had not come willingly with Scott and he had thrown her phone out of the car while he was driving. She also said the gun was underneath the front passenger seat of the vehicle.

Three officers – Gish, Sgt. Zachary Thomas and Officer Wyatt Flickinger – were at the vehicle Scott was in.

Through radios, officers relayed the information provided by the woman to the other officers around the car Scott was in.

Sgt. Zachary Thomas and Officer Wyatt Flickinger were on the passenger side of the car, while Gish was on the passenger side.

Scott still refused to come out of the car and again rolled up his window. Thomas then saws Scott manipulating the controls of the vehicle of the ignition.

Thomas, believing Scott was trying to flee, yelled at him to show him his hands and told him he was being detained. He also ordered Scott to open the door.

Scott again refused and had locked the doors.

Thomas could be heard on body camera footage telling Scott that the windows would be shattered if he didn’t come out of the vehicle.

Thomas then struck the window with his baton but was unsuccessful. After striking the window a second time, Thomas could see Scott lean toward the passenger seat.

After striking it a third time, the glass shattered and Thomas could see Scott’s right arm coming across his body.

Thomas’ body camera, almost immediately after the glass shattered, a gunshot and muzzle flash can be seen coming from inside of the vehicle to the outside of the vehicle’s front driver’s side window.

Gish, still on the passenger side of the vehicle, also saw Scott lower his right hand and begin to lean down toward his side in between the seats. Knowing the gun was on the right side of Scott, he yelled at him to put up his hands.

Gish could then see that Scott had a black firearm in his hand and saw him turn his body toward Thomas and Flickinger. Gish then fired four times into the vehicle.

After the shots are fired, another officer was heard on the body camera yelling to officers “it’s in his lap, it’s in his lap.” Scott was struck Gish’s gunfire and suffered four gunshot wounds.

The gun was in Scott’s lap, with his right hand on top of the firearm, when officers were able to remove him from the vehicle.

Officers then removed Scott from the vehicle, gave him emergency medical aid, and called for a paramedic. Scott died at the scene.

Officers located one shell casing inside of the vehicle. Four shell casings were located outside on the passenger side of the vehicle where Gish fired his gun.

The DCI Laboratory confirmed that the shell casing located inside of the vehicle matched the firearm that Scott had, DeVine said.

“The evidence in this case shows the use of force by Officer Gish was justified and reasonable under the circumstances,” she said. “Brian Scott’s actions of brandishing and shooting a firearm put the lives and physical safety of Officer Gish and other officers at risk. It was reasonable and necessary for Officer Gish to fire his weapon to prevent injury or death to himself, other officers, and even the female victim in the parking lot that morning. "

“This is a classic case of domestic violence. Look at this victim: there’s been various accounts in the past but if you think about the situation she was in that moment, she knew when officers pulled up what happened that night. She knew a gun was right beside her in that car and yet you didn’t see this part, she tried to downplay everything because to her, not knowing he could do it right here and then in front of the officers,” said Kimball.

Added Kimball, “I believe they acted in the best capacity they could have, based on training and circumstances.”

“You have to realize at the beginning, Mr. Scott was not compliant really from the beginning. "

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