A Linn County jury has convicted Brandon Nelson of attempting to murder Cedar Rapids Police Officer Matt Jenatscheck, threatening the life of Cedar Rapids Police Officer Blair Cavin, and 11 other criminal counts, as charged.
On July 30, 2022, Officer Alexander Rink observed Brandon Nelson driving recklessly and at excessive speeds on Edgewood Road on the north side of Cedar Rapids. Nelson eluded Officer Rink and then drove his vehicle head-on toward Officer Rink, forcing Rink to maneuver his squad car to avoid being struck and killed.
When Cedar Rapids Police finally were able to pull him over, Nelson pulled a shotgun out and pointed it at Officer Blair Cavin and then aimed it at Officer Matt Jenatscheck in an attempt to murder Officer Jenatscheck. These officers discharged their firearms at Nelson until he fell to the ground. He sustained three gunshot wounds from which he recovered. Officers did not sustain any injuries.
The Linn County Attorney’s Office charged Nelson with 13 criminal counts for his actions on July 30, 2022: Attempt to Commit Murder of a Peace Officer, two counts of Intimidation with a Dangerous Weapon, three counts of Assault on a Peace Officer while Displaying a Dangerous Weapon, two counts of Interference with Official Acts while Armed with a Firearm, Going Armed with Intent, Eluding, Driving While Barred, Persons Ineligible to Carry and Reckless Driving. The jury convicted him on all counts. Nelson now faces over 80 years in prison.
After the verdicts were returned, Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks thanked the jury for their service and said, “We would also like to commend the bravery and courage of the Cedar Rapids Police Officers involved in this case, especially Officer Blair Cavin and Officer Matt Jenatscheck. Our city is blessed to have officers of impeccable valor, like them, on the beat every day.”
Nelson argued that he was attempting “suicide by cop” when he faced off with the officers. Maybanks further noted, “We are pleased the jury found that the defense of ‘suicide by cop’ was not an excuse for the defendant’s criminal behavior. Unfortunately, our officers face risk like this every day while protecting us. Today may be a good day to thank an officer if you see one.”
This case was prosecuted by Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks and Assistant Linn County Attorney Katherine Shimkat.
Sentencing has been set for Dec. 1, 2023.