MAQUOKETA, Iowa (KWWL) – The lawyer for the family of a Maquoketa man who died following an altercation with police has released body camera video of the moments before he died.
The video shows the entire altercation involving Drew Edwards and law enforcement. It begins with a conversation between Edwards and a Maquoketa police officer and a Jackson County sheriff's deputy. Throughout the recorded conversation, there are various references indicating the officers had encountered Edwards previously.
For roughly 13 minutes, they attempt to take Edwards into custody for a reported assault. Then, Maquoketa Police Officer Mike Owens, appearing frustrated, tells Edwards to get on the ground while drawing a taser.
For two more minutes they try to persuade Edwards to cooperate before deploying the taser for the first time. Edwards is on the ground for only moments, before getting up and taking off at a run, the leads of the taser still attached.
Video shows him continuing to resist as the officers deliver a second taser shock. Ten more minutes go by and the 22-year-old is tasered four additional times as he is seen still visibly struggling with the officers.
The altercation and Edwards' death occurred in June of 2019. An autopsy later determined Edwards died of cardiac arrest and that he had methamphetamine, marijuana and ecstasy in his system. The family later filed a wrongful death suit claiming the officers used excessive force and were responsible for his death.
The attorney representing the family, Dave O'Brien, said while Edwards had a prior history with law enforcement, the day should have never gone as far as it did.
“The police acted very appropriately initially, right up until the point where they didn't act appropriately anymore,” O'Brien said, “I draw the line at using the taser at all because of his known history.”
The lawsuit alleges a taser should have never been used, citing two prior incidents in which Edwards was tased that resulted in hospitalization.
O'Brien and the family acknowledge Edwards' drug use at the time, but also add that law enforcement was also aware of Edwards' heart condition and prior medical issues.
“They're aware of his shortcomings and understand how that plays a role, but so did the police and the law enforcement that were there,” O'Brien said, “If they hadn't tased the last three times, if they hadn't tased him at all, if they hadn't sat on him as long.”
The lawsuit also claims the City of Maquoketa violated records law by refusing to release the video of the incident in an attempt to cover up what happened. O'Brien said the city denied their requests for video until it was surrendered after the lawsuit was filed. O'Brien said they are still working to obtain data from the digital taser used in the incident.
KWWL has chosen not to share the full video of the incident which goes on to record up-close images of a non-responsive Edwards and efforts to revive him. KWWL did reach out to the City of Maquoketa for comment and was referred to a Des Moines attorney's office handling the case. At the time this story was filed, we had not received a response.