The Linn County Attorney’s Office has completed an investigation into the officer-involved shooting that occurred in the 2200 block of Glass Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa on July 30, 2022. The incident involved Cedar Rapids Police Officers Blair Klostermann and Matt Jenatscheck, both of whom discharged their service weapons at Brandon Nelson, 23, of Cedar Rapids. Brandon Nelson sustained at least 3 gunshot wounds from being shot at by these two officers. He had wounds to his left lower abdomen, his left chest and his left tibia. Nelson survived his injuries.
As part of the investigation, Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks reviewed all police narratives and reports generated in this case as well as squad car and body cam footage from responding officers. Through the factual findings of the investigation, County Attorney Maybanks has concluded that the shooting in this case was justified and criminal charges against Officers Klostermann and Jenatscheck of the Cedar Rapids Police Department are not warranted.
Summary of Incident
The circumstances that led to these officers discharging their service weapons and shooting Brandon Nelson started on July 30, 2022, at approximately 3:13 a.m. when Officer Alexander Rink encountered what he described as a white or silver Chrysler 200 or Sebring, later determined to have been operated by Nelson, traveling northbound in the 3000 block of Edgewood Rd. SW at a high rate of speed. Officer Rink confirmed by the squad car radar that Nelson was traveling at 93 mph, well in excess of the posted speed limit. Officer Rink turned around in the 2700 block of Edgewood Rd. SW and activated his emergency lights and siren to attempt to catch up to the vehicle but lost sight of it. Officer Rink continued northbound on Edgewood Rd. and encountered the vehicle again traveling southbound this time down the hill from O Ave. NW at a speed of 90 mph. Officer Rink turned around to pursue the vehicle again, this time going southbound, but again lost sight of it. Officer Rink then encountered the vehicle again at 12th Ave. and Edgewood Rd. SW and it was traveling at him going northbound. The suspect vehicle crossed the center line and came at Officer Rink’s vehicle head-on forcing Officer Rink to maneuver to the outside lane to avoid being struck. Officer Rink’s supervisor advised him to terminate the pursuit due to the suspect’s reckless behavior. The suspect vehicle was spotted on numerous subsequent occasions driving recklessly and over the speed limit in NW Cedar Rapids over the next half-hour or so, including reportedly traveling head-on at an ambulance.
Officer Blair Klostermann spotted the suspect vehicle and began to follow it northbound on Edgewood Rd. NW at approximately F Ave. NW. The vehicle continued northbound driving into oncoming traffic and swerving between the two northbound lanes until it turned right (eastbound) onto Glass Rd. NE and came to a momentary stop in the traveled portion of the roadway at 3:47:12 a.m. Officer Jenatscheck had joined as the second car behind Officer Klostermann by that time. Officer Klostermann continued to follow the suspect vehicle as it picked up speed again, reaching a speed of up to 77 mph, well in excess of the posted speed limit. As Officer Klostermann crossed the intersection of Glass Rd. NE and Old Orchard Dr. NE, she requested permission to conduct a traffic stop at 3:48:26 a.m. and was granted permission from Sgt. Jacob Briley at 3:48:32 a.m. as the vehicle stopped at the intersection of Glass Rd. NE and Wenig Rd. NE. Officer Klostermann activated the top lights of her squad car at 3:48:39 a.m. The suspect vehicle continued at a high rate of speed in excess of the speed limit traveling eastbound on Glass Rd. NE and suddenly stopped in the 2200 block of Glass Rd. NE. Officer Klostermann stopped her squad car behind the suspect vehicle and Officer Jenatscheck pulled up next to her in his squad car and came to a stop in the westbound lane of traffic.
Before the officers could even get out of their vehicles, Nelson emerged from the driver’s seat holding a long black gun. Nelson pulled the gun up to his chest pointing it in the direction of Officer Klostermann. Both Officer Klostermann and Officer Jenatsheck then withdrew their service weapons while simultaneously ordering Nelson to drop his gun at 3:49:04. Nelson did not follow their lawful orders. Nelson then lifted the gun to his shoulder to aim it at Officer Jenatscheck as both officers ordered him to drop the gun again. As Nelson takes aim at Officer Jeanatsheck, both officers discharge their service weapons at Nelson. All 12 gunshots by the officers were fired in approximately one second. As Nelson was struck with bullets and taking aim, he discharged the shotgun in the direction of Officer Jenatscheck.
The County Attorney’s investigation concludes that the use of deadly force by Officers Klostermann and Jenatscheck was necessary to avoid injury or risk to their lives and was reasonable under Iowa law (Iowa Code section 704). Officers Klostermann and Jenatscheck were justified in the use of reasonable force because they reasonably believed that such force was necessary to defend themselves from the actual and imminent use of unlawful force against them by Nelson when Nelson aimed a gun directly at them.
The use of deadly force by a peace officer is a matter of serious consequence warranting careful investigation and thorough review. In the State of Iowa, it is the general consensus among County Attorneys that it is the duty of the County Attorney, as chief law enforcement official of his or her jurisdiction, to be available for consultation and lend assistance in the investigation and evaluation of officer-involved shooting incidents in a timely, objective, and professional manner.
View the official memorandum by the Linn County Attorney's office (PDF).