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Iowa City still looking for outside firm to investigate use of tear gas in June

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Protesters retreat from a line of police after being hit with tear gas and flash bangs on June 3.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) - Iowa City officials say they're still looking for a third-party firm to investigate police activity the night of June 3; when police used chemical deterrents on hundreds of protesters marching towards Interstate 80.

"It was a significant event that really rocked the community," At-Large City Councilor Laura Bergus said.

The City Council agreed last month, while passing an initial resolution in support of demands from Black Lives Matter protesters in town, to complete this investigation by August 1. City manager Geoff Fruin said on June 16 he would ask the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations to lead the investigation into what prompted police to use these weapons on demonstrators.

However, Fruin said he had decided against that during this week's council meeting. His reasoning was that Iowa State Patrol officers were also present that night and it could be a conflict of interest to have another state entity investigate them.

"I agree with their conclusion that it's probably best that the state not be involved," Fruin said Tuesday.

Councilors agreed Tuesday to renew the search for another outside firm to investigate ICPD's actions.

City officials now believe the original August 1 deadline to complete the report is likely unattainable. However, councilors agreed getting an independent body to do the review is worth the wait.

Councilor Bergus says she's hoping the report touches on if ICPD officers were acting within department guidelines when using tear gas and flash bang grenades on demonstrators.

"I don't personally think that it would have been "unlawful" as far as what happened. And I think that's maybe the disconnect that we need to address," Bergus said about finding evidence to support police reforms.

ICPD and the city will not release any information about the event yet; such as how many officers were on scene, which agency made the call to use tear gas or if and how officers aided people after the altercation.

The city did release a statement two days after the incident, saying the use of these weapons was "regrettable".

Reporter Travis Breese live at the scene on North Dubuque Street the night of June 3.

Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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