PLAINFIELD — The Bremer County Attorney declined to file criminal charges or request a grand jury review in the officer-involved shooting death of a Minneapolis man, and provided dash-cam footage from one trooper to back up their report.
Jihad Mustafa Merrick, 29, was killed in part by at least three bullets fired from the handgun of Bremer County Sheriff’s Deputy Glenn Beenblossom, according to a report compiled by Bremer County Attorney Kasey Wadding and supplemented by an autopsy conducted by Dr. Francis Garrity.
Beenblossom fired eight rounds at Merrick, according to the report. Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Deputy Adam Hanson fired one round from his rifle, but it was unclear if that round hit Merrick. An autopsy found three .40-caliber bullets in Merrick’s body.
Merrick’s official cause of death was homicide by multiple gunshot wounds, with an additional “significant condition” of methamphetamine intoxication, according to Wadding’s report.
Police stopped Merrick going 104 mph southbound on U.S. Highway 218 in Plainfield around 8:52 p.m. Jan. 17, 2018. It was later reported Merrick had been pointing a handgun at himself in the parking lot of the Love’s Truck Stop near Floyd just before being stopped.
According to Wadding’s report, Nashua Police Officer Ben Scholl pulled Merrick over and saw him holding a Ruger LC9 9mm handgun to his head, and called for backup.
Iowa State Patrol troopers Nathaniel Miller, Chris Forsyth and Ken Haut, Nashua Police Chief Travis Marvin, and both Beenblossom and Hanson all responded to the scene, according to the report.
A negotiator also was requested but did not arrive in time from Cresco, according to the report. Haut acted as primary negotiator, according to Wadding’s report.
Officers repeatedly asked Merrick to drop his handgun and exit his vehicle, which Merrick refused to do, although he did exit his vehicle three times with the handgun still pointed at his head, according to Wadding’s report.
Merrick continually complained to officers about turning off their emergency lights, according to the report. He also would return to his vehicle with the gun still pointed at his head and appeared to be talking on his cell phone to someone, and one officer believed he heard the word “mom,” according to the report.
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One shot was fired from inside the vehicle at 9:21 p.m., according to the report. Officers then approached the vehicle and saw Merrick did not appear injured and the gun was on the passenger seat.
Haut broke the driver’s side window and tried to secure Merrick’s hands, according to the report. Miller broke the passenger-side window and retrieved Merrick’s handgun, according to the report.
Merrick continued to struggle with officers, according to the report. Beenblossom was trying to enter the car through an unlocked back passenger side door when Merrick got his right hand free, put his car into gear and accelerated the vehicle. Beenblossom’s leg and foot were “caught by the car” when Merrick accelerated, according to the report, “which caused him a great deal of pain.”
Haut gave the order to shoot Merrick, according to the report. Beenblossom and Hanson both fired on Merrick.
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Merrick was pronounced dead at the scene.
Wadding concluded the officers’ use of force was justified in the shooting death of Merrick.
“Mr. Merrick knew or reasonably should have known that the act of putting his vehicle in gear and accelerating while the officers tried to extricate him from his vehicle would create a strong probability that serious injury would result,” Wadding wrote in his report. “The officers had a reasonable belief that the use of deadly force was necessary to avoid injury or risk to their lives and was necessary to resist the like force or threat.”
Wadding indicated his office would not file criminal charges or request a grand jury, “as I believe it would serve no worthwhile purpose,” he wrote.
He added he believed the officers showed “patience, compassion and concern for Mr. Merrick as well as the community.”