The Iowa Attorney General’s Office reported this week that the use of deadly force by five Iowa Falls police officers was both justified and reasonable in the shooting of 25-year-old Leighton Fitz.
Wearing a bullet-proof vest and armed, Fitz was killed during a standoff with police outside of his Iowa Falls home.
Fitz had allegedly assaulted his girlfriend and she ran from his home to call police. She reported he had several guns in the house and may be suicidal.
Fitz posted a threatening message on Facebook after police arrived: “Let it be known, as of right (expletive) now I am barricaded (in) my house. Tired of being (expletive) over. Any officer will meet a heavily armed and armored man. I’m done.”
Due to the Facebook message and his alleged refusal to comply with officer’s orders, the Attorney General’s Office ruled the shooting was justified. Police say Fitz had a handgun and a knife in his front pocket and another handgun concealed in the back when he came out of the house.
“He was like this because I know he threw his cell phone at police and he had his hands in like this and he was digging for something I think and the police said ‘pull your hands out so he goes like this and his hands get to right about here and then they start shooting him,” witness Andrew Bonin told WHOTV.
Police fired 68 rounds at Fitz, hitting him 17 times.
“He was smoking a cigarette,” witness David Miranda told the news station. “They told him when he got done with his cigarette and threw his phone at them, and they told him to pull his hands out of his pockets. Put his hands up and they fired at him. I would guess after just a couple rounds he went down and they continued firing.”
Cell phone footage of the incident shows authorities not only fired on Fitz but on other members of law enforcement. Rounds hit the ground near the feet of Iowa Falls police and struck the building behind state troopers.
“There were shots coming from both directions, firing at each other really. I don`t know what they were thinking but…” Miranda added.
Fitz's family claims he went outside prepared to surrender to police.
“It has been suggested by some family members of Fitz that he came out of the house with his hands raised willing to submit to law enforcement. There is no evidence to support any such claim,” the investigation report stated.
“After they shot him, the cops were running around, they were high fiving, congratulating each other. It was like a party,” Miranda recalled.
More handguns and ammunition were found inside Fitz’s home as well as a loaded rifle, a high-powered rifle with a scope and a gas mask.