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Anne M. Lahey Michael D. Brennan Meredith Rich-Chappell Elizabeth A. Beglin Kristin L. Parks Rachel Zimmermann Smith Dana Christiansen Jude T. Pannell Naeda Erickson
Johnson County Attorney
Johnson County Courthouse • 417 South Clinton Street • P.O. Box 2450 • Iowa City, IA 52244-2450 Phone (319) 339-6100 • Fax (319) 339-6149
Andrew B. Chappell Patricia A. Weir Emily Voss Susan D. Nehring
April 19, 2013 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE From Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness:
Investigation of Officer Involved Shooting Synopsis: On March 10, 2013 North Liberty Officers were dispatched to 238 Holiday Lodge Road, North Liberty for a 911 call reporting a domestic fight at this location. North Liberty Officers Sgt. Adam Olson, Officer Christopher Shine, and Officer Cody Jacobsen responded. The domestic disturbance was between Taleb Salameh and his girlfriend who resided at together at the residence as well as two young children. The officers spoke to the female and attempted to speak to Mr. Salameh who was inside the residence and would not open the door to the officers. After repeatedly asking Mr. Salameh to open the door, one officer tried unsuccessfully to kick the door open. Mr. Salameh then moved towards the back of the trailer and began shooting at the officers through the front door. Two officers were hit in their ballistic vests, one officer in his pant leg and one shot on the side of his chest. The officers returned fire, retreated and took cover. Officers from the North Liberty Police Department, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, the Iowa City Police Department, the Coralville Police Department, the University of Iowa Police Department, the University Heights Police Department, and the Iowa State Patrol, as well as the North Liberty Fire Department and the Johnson County Ambulance Service, responded at assist. The Johnson County SERT Team was contacted as well as the Johnson County bomb squad. The bomb squad used a robot, controlled remotely, to enter the residence. Through the use of the robot video they were able to determine that Mr. Salameh was deceased. The investigation began immediately with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation taking the lead. Assistance was provided by the other law enforcement agencies already mentioned. Special assistance was provided by the Iowa City Police Department, whose officers who processed the scene. An officer with the Cedar Rapids Police Department also assisted with collecting evidence at the scene. Physical evidence, including weapons, shell casings and bullets, were sent to the Division of Criminal Investigation Crime Laboratory in Ankeny, Iowa, for analysis. The Johnson County Medical Examiner’s
Office, the State Medical Examiner’s Office and the Johnson County Attorney’s Office also assisted. The investigation included interviews with witnesses, family and friends of Mr. Salameh, analysis of evidence found at the scene, review of the 911 calls, radio traffic with the JECC, officers patrol car recordings, reports from the autopsy of Mr. Salameh conducted by the Deputy State Medical Examiner Dr. Dennis Firchau, and findings from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations Crime Laboratory. The investigation showed the following: On March 10, 2013, at approximately 5:51PM the Johnson County Joint Emergency Communications Center received a 911 call reporting fighting at a residence, subsequently identified as 238 Holiday Lodge Road in North Liberty, Iowa. The caller reported that a man and woman had both driven away rapidly in separate vehicles then returned to the residence. The caller related hearing yelling by the two people and the man jumping on the woman’s car and yelling at the woman. The JECC staff dispatched the North Liberty Police Department to the scene at 5:53PM. Three North Liberty Officers responded to the scene. The officers were Sgt. Adam Olson, Officer Christopher Shine, and Officer Cody Jacobsen. While still speaking with the dispatcher, the caller said the woman drove away; the man went into the residence then to his truck parked in front of the mobile home; then returned to the residence. The woman returned and appeared to go to the door of the residence. The caller related that the police had been to 238 Holiday Lodge Road multiple times in the last month. Officer Shine confirmed to dispatch while in route, that he had been to this mobile home in the last two weeks. When the officers arrive, the woman who lived at 238 Holiday Lodge Road, was on the ramp leading up to the front porch of the mobile home. The woman was crying and said she just wanted to get her belongings from inside the residence. The officers noted her emotional state and redness to her eyes that they believed indicated she had been injured recently. The officers asked her if it had been a physical fight and did not hear a response from her but believed from her emotional state and redness to her face that it had been physical. The woman indicated that only Mr. Salameh was in the residence. The officers asked about weapons in the residence and she replied that she thought he had removed his gun earlier that day. The officers went to the front door of the residence. The front door is accessed off a small deck that has walls around it and a ramp up to the deck. The deck is approximately eight feet by eight feet. Officers knocked on the door. They could see inside the trailer through a vertical window on the front door which is approximately three inches wide. There appeared to be items by the front door consistent with someone moving out, just as the female resident had indicated. They knocked on the door and saw a man, later identified as Taleb Salameh, inside the residence by the front door. An officer told him they needed to speak to him and directed him to open the door. Mr. Salameh said they could talk through the door. The officers repeated that he needed to open the door several times. An officer said that Salameh needed to open the door or they were going to kick it in. One of the officers drew his Taser at this point. None of
the officers had firearms drawn. An officer told Mr. Salameh to get back because they were going to kick in the door. Another officer again told him to open the door. One officer kicked the door but the door did not open. Mr. Salameh yelled “deescalate, deescalate”. The officer again told him to open the door, and “open the door right now”. An officer saw Mr. Salameh run toward the back of the trailer and the officer announced “he just ran to the back”. Approximately a second later four shots were fired from inside the trailer through the door at the officers. One officer was hit in his chest approximately 2 inches from his left nipple. The ballistic vest he was wearing stopped the bullet from entering his body. This officer was able to back down the ramp and draw his weapon. Another officer was hit in the abdomen, with his ballistic vest stopping the bullet from entering his body. This officer and the third officer backed into the northeast corner of the deck as the first shots were fired. The officers could feel the air of bullets going past them. During the shooting, the front door had opened. The officer who had drawn his Taser saw Mr. Salameh by the edge of the door and attempted to shoot him with the Taser. After discharging the Taser, he dropped the Taser and ran down the ramp to the front of the trailer. Shots continued to be fired by Salameh out of the trailer towards the deck. The officer radioed to the dispatcher that shots had been fired and they needed back up. The first officer off of the ramp ran to the front of the trailer and attempted to look in the front window to see where Salameh was located. He got the female resident into his patrol car then returned to the front of the trailer. He broke the right side of the front bay window to try to see inside but items in the kitchen blocked his view. He went to the other side of the front bay window but his view was again blocked. He shot twice into the residence, but did not hit Mr. Salameh. The third officer was still on the deck at this time. This third officer was in the corner of the deck with the only exit being the ramp which required him to go in front of the open front door. He moved in front of the door and fired his handgun multiple times and ran off the deck down the ramp. He believed he had shot Mr. Salameh but was not certain Mr. Salameh was dead. Once this officer was off the ramp, he realized he had been hit and was bleeding from his hand. He subsequently realized he had been grazed by a bullet on the right side of his chest and the extent of the injury was not clear to him. He also received multiple injuries to his hand, later believed to be from shrapnel. The officers who were hit were transported by ambulance to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. They were treated for injuries sustained to the chest and abdomen through their ballistic vests. One officer was also treated for the injury to his side and to his hand. He continues to receive treatment for the injuries to his hand. Mr. Taleb Salameh was transported to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. A deputy State Medical Examiner performed an autopsy on him. The autopsy revealed that Mr.
Salameh had been struck by bullets approximately seven times and died as a result of the injuries. The autopsy report is in the process of being completed. The female resident reported that she and Mr. Salameh have a child together. Mr. Salameh was in the process of completing his engineering degree at the University of Iowa. They had moved to 238 Holiday Lodge Road, North Liberty, in January 2013. Mr. Salameh is from Iowa City and grew up in the area. She told officers that on March 10, 2013, she and Mr. Salameh argued and she was trying to collect her things and was moving out of the house. She and Mr. Salameh earlier in the day had discussed her concerns about Mr. Salameh having a gun in the house because of the small children present. He had taken the gun out of the house and she believed placed it in his truck. That evening she was trying to remove more of her belongings from the residence, but Mr. Salameh locked the door and would not let her inside. She was standing outside when the officers arrived. Officers had responded previously to their residence in the past few weeks due to the conflicts between the two of them. She was familiar with two of the officers. The analysis of the crime scene showed that Mr. Salameh had fired shots towards the officers with a Beretta 9mm R-P handgun ten times. Mr. Salameh fired through the closed door once then four more times through the door as it was opening. Based on evidence found at the scene and the reports, it was determined that Mr. Salameh struck the officers before they drew their firearms. It is not certain when the officer was hit on his side with a grazing shot. Another officer was shot through his pant leg by Mr. Salameh and it is not clear if this occurred while he was still on the deck or as he was running down the ramp. The officers never entered the residence. Mr. Salameh fired all shots from within the residence. Inside the mobile home, two loaded magazines of ammunition were found on the couch in the living room within feet of the door. Items that appeared to have been packed were found by the front door. No other people were in the residence. Less than twenty seconds passed between the first shot from Mr. Salameh and the last shot fired. The last officer to leave the deck shot fourteen times, of these, seven hit Mr. Salameh. Another officer shot twice through the front window of the trailer but did not hit Mr. Salameh. From the investigation it is determined that the officers acted with reasonable force in returning fire after being shot and shots continuing to be fired at them. They had no lesser course of action available to them at the time.
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