Jovan Webb, 27, is suing Waterloo, Iowa, police for shooting him five times as he fled in his car. Webb's suit contends that he had no idea the man who approached him was a cop; he feared for his life when he drove off to avoid the officer.
For good reason, it seems.
On the night of April 5, 2015, police were called to the scene of a Waterloo bar to break up a fight. The fight had already ended by the time they arrived. Webb witnessed the altercation, but was not involved and did not know the participants.
According to Webb's lawsuit, a police officer approach Webb's car as he tried to leave. Webb, a black man, believes he may have been targeted because of his race. Since the officer was wearing plain clothes, and it was too dark outside to see the officer's badge, Webb didn't know he was obligated to stop and chat. And since the man appeared to be holding "a black object," Webb was reasonably afraid and simply drove off.
The officer chased the vehicle, following alongside the passenger window, and eventually opened fire. Webb was shot five different times, and drove directly to the hospital—where police promptly placed him in handcuffs. According to the lawsuit:
"At no time during the encounter did Mr. Webb pose a threat to Defendants or anyone else that could have justified Defendants' use of deadly force. Accordingly, Mr. Webb was not charged with any crime related to this incident."
The Iowa Attorney General's office looked into the matter and decided that the cops acted responsibly, according to CBS2 News:
After a review of the case, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), found the force used by the officers was justified and was not a criminal act. The actions of the officers were reasonable under the circumstances.
The local news story notes that Webb hit one of the officers during his escape from what he believed to be an attempt on his life, though the injury was minor compared to the extensive damage Webb suffered. His lung collapsed, and doctors have been unable to remove two of the bullets from his body.
Attorneys representing Webb posted surveillance footage of the shooting online. It's hard to glean much from the video, but Webb certainly doesn't appear to be madly running over cops. The most logical explanation for his actions is consistent with what his lawsuit claims: He did nothing wrong, but was afraid for his life.
And—again—that fear was justified. He was shot five times.
I'll update this story if Waterloo's attorney responds to my request for comment.