An Iowa regulatory board agreed Thursday to help resolve whether records and video of a Burlington police officer shooting and killing a mother must be made public, reports the Des Moines Register. The Iowa Public Information Board rejected the recommendation of its executive director Charlie Smithson, who sided with the state and asked for the issue to be dismissed. The woman's family described the board's action as a substantial step in their seven-month battle to obtain even the most routine public documents.
The case involves Autumn Steele, a 34-year-old mother mistakenly shot and killed in front of her 3-year-old son in January by Burlington Police Officer Jesse Hill. Hill said the shot was accidental, a result of his response to a domestic dispute call and a quick encounter with the family's German shepherd that Hill said became aggressive. He was cleared of criminal charges in February and has been returned to the force despite citizen protests. The family and the Burlington Hawk Eye newspaper have sought 911 call transcripts, emails and police body and dashboard camera footage.