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Report: Police Justified In Fatally Shooting Bank Robber

Jul 13, 2016

The Iowa Attorney General's office has completed its review of a fatal police shooting in Fort Madison. Scott Brown, Special Assistant Attorney General, summarized the office's findings in a four-page report dated July 12, 2016. Not only does the report clear the two officers involved, but it also sheds much more light on details about the robbery.

The report stated that Lafayette Evans, 37, was believed to be working in construction in Atlanta, GA. The report linked Evans to bank robberies in Nashville, TN (Oct. 2013), Rockford, IL (May 2014), and possibly to robberies in the Quad Cities and in Alabama.

The report said Evans entered the Fort Madison Bank & Trust June 29 armed with a handgun.  He demanded money, threatened employees and customers, and fired two bullets into the ceiling.

Witnesses told law enforcement that Evans was in a dark-colored SUV before entering the bank.  According to the report, the vehicle drove off without Evans, so when he exited the bank with nearly $225,000 in cash he ran into a nearby empty field.

Two Fort Madison police officers, David Doyle and Benjamin “Cory” Brown, chased Evans on foot while Lee County Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Sproul tried to intercept Evans in his vehicle. Sproul was transporting a prisoner at the time.

The report stated that Evans fired three shots at Deputy Sproul from about 20 feet away, striking the windshield, the radiator, and the rear passenger door. Doyle and Brown returned fire, getting off a total of eight rounds.

Evans was struck once in the chest, which was the cause of death according to the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office.

According to Brown’s report:

“It is determined that the officers were legally justified under the laws of the State of Iowa in using deadly force. The actions of the officers were objectively reasonable under the circumstances. The officers were confronted with a direct and deadly threat posed by Evans toward fellow officer Deputy Sproul. Sproul was essentially at the mercy of Evans, who was firing a weapon at him from close range providing him no time to access his own weapon to defend himself. Evans firing his weapon in a public place also posed a serious and deadly threat to innocent bystanders.”

It went on to state the officers were "objectively reasonable" in firing their weapons to neutralize the threat posed by Evans and that the state considers Evans’ death to be a “justifiable homicide.”

The Office of the Iowa Attorney General said it considers the investigation into the shooting closed, though it acknowledges that law enforcement is still looking for the SUV and is still trying to determine who else was involved.