MAQUOKETA, Iowa — Local law enforcement officials deny any wrongdoing in connection with the June death of a Maquoketa man.
Attorneys representing the City of Maquoketa and Assistant Police Chief Brendan Zeimet, and representing Jackson County and sheriff’s department Chief Deputy Steve Schroeder each recently submitted responses in federal court after a wrongful-death lawsuit was filed by the family of Drew M. Edwards, 22.
The family is seeking damages for five alleged offenses, including excessive force and violations of open records law.
But Muscatine County’s county attorney, Alan Ostergren, determined there was no criminal conduct by law enforcement during the incident.
Law enforcement reported encountering Edwards at about 7 a.m. June 15 in the 100 block of West Apple Street in Maquoketa and planned to arrest him for an assault earlier in the day.
According to Ostergren, law enforcement spent more than 10 minutes trying to reason with Edwards to cooperate, but he “was not rationally responding to their requests.”
The letter states that Zeimet and Schroeder were aware that Edwards “had a history of fighting with law enforcement when he was under the influence of controlled substances” and that he “appeared to be impaired.”
When the pair went to apprehend Edwards, he ran. He was shot with a stun gun twice, “but it had no substantial effect,” according to the county attorney’s letter.
A struggle ensued, and after Edwards was subdued, officers noticed he had stopped breathing. He died.
In the lawsuit, the family argued that Zeimet’s and Schroeder’s use of stun guns exacerbated a heart condition and led to his death.
The family argued that authorities knew of Edwards’ heart condition, as he had to be hospitalized on two earlier occasions in which stun guns were used. In their response documents, law enforcement acknowledged that the stun guns had been used with Edwards twice before.
In one of those incidents, which occurred in May 2018, Edwards was accused of attempting to disarm an officer during an arrest. A jury acquitted him of that charge, though he was found guilty of interference with official acts.
“After murdering Edwards ... the defendants falsely claimed that Edwards had a history of attempting to disarm police officers when being placed under arrest, and that false claim became a narrative which was used to justify the murder in initial news stories and social media posts,” attorney David O’Brien wrote in the petition.
The family also took issue with the Muscatine County county attorney’s investigation and findings.
The petition acknowledged Edwards’ drug use and the fact that methamphetamine and marijuana were found in his system at the time of his death.
In their responses, the law enforcement officials and agencies denied any wrongdoing in the course of Edwards’ arrest or related actions and asked that the lawsuit be dismissed.