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Officer cleared in Council Bluffs shooting, county attorney says

The Pottawattamie County Attorney announced Friday he will not be taking any action against a Council Bluffs police o...

Posted: Feb 12, 2018 7:35 AM
Updated: Feb 12, 2018 7:35 AM

The Pottawattamie County Attorney announced Friday he will not be taking any action against a Council Bluffs police officer who shot an Omaha man earlier in the month.

On February 1st, investigators say Daton Petrey, 21, dragged officer Trevor Benson in his car door for several feet before the officer fired his gun twice.

Petrey was hit once in his abdomen and is still in the hospital.

County Attorney Matt Wilbur found there is no reason to believe there was any criminal wrongdoing from the officer.

In his findings, Wilbur laid out Petrey's criminal history including a recent two-year-long sentence in prison on robbery charges. Wilbur says Petrey was paroled in September 2017.

Wilbur says Petrey went to the Fas Mart that morning with someone he had only met a few times.

Terry Stalnaker told investigators Petrey made him uneasy, but that Stalnaker wanted to go to the gas station to buy a cigar and Petrey wanted to connect to the wi-fi, so they went together.

The findings say Petrey initially pulled up to the pumps on the side of the store, but that Stalnaker told him that he looked suspicious there so they parked by the middle set of gas pumps in front.

They say Petrey was driving a car owned by an employee at Fas Mart, but she was not working at the time.

The report says Petrey tried to walk into the store, but the employee on duty told him to leave and told him police were already on the way.

Wilbur says officer Benson pulled up within five seconds of Petrey and Stalnaker getting back into the car.

Investigators say Benson asked for Petrey's ID, but he refused. This went on for about two minutes.

Investigators say Benson eventually asked Petrey to take the keys out of the ignition and he did, but they say he refused to get out of the car when Benson told him to.

They say Petrey "jammed the key back into the ignition" as Benson was opening the car door.

Wilbur says, according to store surveillance video, Petrey reversed his car just two seconds after the officer grabbed Petrey.

They say the video shows the car suddenly speeding backward. During this, they say Stalnaker jumped out of the passenger seat and his leg was run over, but he refused medical attention.

The report says officer Benson told investigators he was afraid of being run over.

The findings say from the time Petrey started backing up, to the time Benson fired his gun, three seconds had passed.

After this, officers say the video shows Petrey hit the gas again, but officer Benson can be seen on the passenger side of the car with his gun drawn and pointed through the windshield.

Investigators say Petrey can be seen putting both of his hands up and the brakes on.

At this point, investigators say an officer on routine patrol happened to drive by, thought something didn't look right and started to pull into the lot.

That officer told investigators he heard but did not see a gunshot and saw Benson with his gun drawn and yelling at the driver to stop the car.

The findings say just before the other officer got there, Petrey lowered his hands out of sight and slams on the gas. Investigators say Benson fired a single shot into the back passenger side of the car as it drove past.

Wilbur says the other officer chased after Petrey while Benson ran back to his cruiser.

Eventually investigators say Petrey flipped his car then ran off, but officers found him a few blocks away.

Investigators say Petrey was shot in his left armpit, but the bullet exited through his back and lodged in the driver's seat.

Wilbur says the entire physical encounter between Petrey and Benson took 17 seconds.

In his conclusion, Wilbur says there was no evidence that showed Benson had any ill will toward Petrey and that a grand jury would "serve no worthwhile purpose".

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