Burlington, IA – A Burlington Police officer, supervising a domestic dispute, shot and killed a woman in front of her house Tuesday morning.
The victim has been identified as 34-year-old Autumn Steele. The Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI), who is leading the investigation, has not released the name of the officer who shot her.
There is no indication that Steele or her husband were armed or that they posed a threat to the officer involved.
According to court records Steele was arrested Monday night on a misdemeanor charge of domestic abuse. She was released from the jail and told that she could not return to the home without a police officer escort in order to gather her belongings.
Steele then returned to the home with her police officer escort, the same person that would later kill her.
As her husband, Gabriel Steele, was loading up their 4-year-old son, Steele came out of the house and got into an altercation with him. She was followed by the dog.
When the escort officer saw the disturbance he went to break it up. Witnesses say that at this time the dog was being playful, but apparently still threatened the officer which caused him to draw his pistol and begin shooting.
One of the shots fired struck Steele in the chest.
“The dog startled the officer. The officer began shooting at the dog. The officer was still shooting when he fell down in the snow,” one witness told The Hawk Eye Newspaper.
“It appeared he was shooting at the dog when (the officer) fell to the ground. It’s my belief the woman was shot accidentally,” said another witness.
Seconds after the shooting another Burlington officer arrived on the scene and both officers tried to calm Gabriel Steele, who wanted to help his wife.
“I’m a combat veteran,” he screamed. “What are you guys (police) doing? Let me help.”
Steele was eventually taken by ambulance to the Great River Medical Center where she later died of the gunshot wound to the chest.
This is a tragic case of police incompetence. The very government agency who claims the authority to carry deadly weapons into all situations often disregard this heavy responsibility and end up hurting those they ostensibly protect.