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Family of woman killed by Burlington officer files lawsuit

November 22, 2016

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) — The family of a woman who was shot and killed by a Burlington police officer has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city.

The lawsuit was filed last week in U.S. District Court in Davenport. It contends that officer Jesse Hill’s actions on Jan. 6, 2015, were reckless in causing the death of 34-year-old Autumn Steele.

Hill was responding to a fight between Steele and her husband, authorities said. Hill tried to shoot the family’s growling dog as it attacked him but hit Steele in the chest instead. A prosecutor later determined that the shooting was justified and didn’t charge Hill, who returned to duty.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, also alleges that Burlington failed to properly train Hill.

“In firing his weapon in the direction of three people, including a 3-year-old child, defendant Hill acted with deliberate indifference to a significant risk of harm to innocent citizens,” the lawsuit states.

Autumn Steele’s husband, Gabriel Steele, was standing in front of their home near his wife and holding their 3-year-old son when Hill fired.

Burlington Police Chief Doug Beaird declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation. City Manager Jim Ferneau also declined to comment.

Steele’s family and The Hawk Eye newspaper have sought a number of records in the case, including complete dash cam video from police cruisers, complete body camera videos, 911 transcripts and emails. A legal fight for those records continues.

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