Woman raising money to sue police department for excessive force during traffic stop

Published: Apr. 7, 2023 at 8:22 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Toledo Police Officer Kyle Howe misled fellow law enforcement officers about the events leading to an arrest at a traffic stop, according to a nine-minute video provided to our i9 Investigative Team.

The video shows Shyla Wolf making a phone call to get supervision for her three children in a car. Then, Officer Howe pushes Wolf onto a patrol car while trying to put her in handcuffs before a struggle occurs where the body camera ends up on the ground. The audio shows Officer Howe threatening to use a TASER while at least one of the three children is crying in the car.

Wolf said she believes the officer used excessive force and is raising money on GoFundMe to pay for a civil attorney for a potential lawsuit against the city. According to the fundraiser, she received a fat lip, marks around her neck, bruises on her arms and body aches from the traffic stop.

Shows About 9 Minutes of the incident. TV9 has requested a dashcam video, but hasn't received it yet.

Wolf faces a handful of charges from the traffic stop on March 30 including neglect or abandonment of a dependent, interference with official acts, failure to provide proof of financial liability, driving with a license under suspension and having a dark window.

The three neglect or abandonment of dependent charges are felonies. According to court documents, the charges occurred because Wolf declined to comply with lawful orders to place her hands behind her back when she was under arrest and she asked her kids to exit the vehicle and record the event. According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, Wolf is barred from driving until February 12, 2026.

According to court documents, Howe arrested and cited Wolf with a variety of different driving offenses before he pulled her over last Thursday. Those documents also show Wolf has faced around eight different driving offenses in the past 10 years.

The “Use of Force” policy for the Toledo Police Department, which our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team requested, said an officer should only use the amount of force necessary to mitigate an incident, make an arrest or protect themselves or others from harm. It also said the officer shall only use the amount of force necessary to immediately resolve the situation like verbal restraint, less-lethal force and lethal force.

Our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team asked the Toledo Police Department if they believed the video was a proper use of force, which the department didn’t respond to directly.

Mike Marquess, who serves on a part-time basis as the attorney for the city of Toledo said, said neither the department can’t comment further about the specifics of this case in an email. He also said the city attorney’s office provided her with the information to make a formal complaint to the Toledo Police Department so it can open a formal investigation, but it hasn’t received a complaint as of Friday.

Bill Straton, who is a retired New York Police Officer, said the optics of the video is bad and he would like to see the dashcam video along with more information about the officer and the woman. However, he believes both the officer and the driver made mistakes while responding to the traffic stop.

“She started negotiating with her kids in the car,” Straton said. “In my opinion, she put her children at risk by not obeying the lawful orders. Now on the other side, the police officer could have shown more discretion,”

He also said traffic stops are some of the most dangerous situations for police officers and Wolf not complying and asking her kids to get involved might have triggered the officer because the kids could have started joining the scuffle.

According to the video, Officer Howe said Wolf asked her children to fight the officer to other law enforcement personnel. However, the audio shows Wolf only asking her children to record the event.

Amara Andrews, who is the board president for a group pushing for police reform called the Advocates for Social Justice, cried when our I9 Investigative Team showed her the video. She said the most difficult part of the video was watching the officer lie to the other officers.

“We want to believe that our police officers are here to protect us and to keep our street safe,” Andrews said. “Not lie and contrive stories in order to punish people and justify their bad behavior. I mean that’s the opposite of what you want a police officer to do, so really this is an unfortunate stance of circumstances.”

She said she believed the video shows the officer using an excessive amount of force because Wolf was trying to find supervision for her kids. Andrews said she feels awful for the children, who had to watch their Mom and an officer wrestle to the ground.

“It’s awful,” she said. “And you feel so helpless and I can’t imagine how frightened her kids were. It’s terrible.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been changed to reflect Mike Marquess serves as City Attorney for the city of Toledo on a part-time basis and doesn’t represent the Tama County Attorney’s office.