Police Abuse

After Iowa Police Ignored Her Pleas for Help, Her Estranged Husband Killed Her

Angela Prichard was murdered after Bellevue police officers repeatedly refused to enforce a restraining order against her abusive husband.


In October 2022, Angela Prichard was murdered by her estranged husband, Christopher Prichard. The crime wasn't entirely unpredictable; Angela Prichard had repeatedly sought help from police months before she was killed. But officers did nothing, even ignoring Christopher Prichard's repeated violations of a restraining order.

Angela Prichard's family is now suing the city of Bellevue, Iowa, claiming that police inaction directly led to Angela Prichard's death and deprived her of her due process rights.

In April 2022, Christopher Prichard was arrested on a domestic violence charge against Angela Prichard, and a no-contact order was issued—though that order was terminated less than a month later. Around July or August, the suit states that Angela Prichard found a tracking device in her car and several hidden cameras in her home. However, when she called the police to report the devices—a violation of Iowa anti-stalking laws—the officers did nothing.

Christopher Prichard also sent Angela Prichard a series of threatening text messages, including one telling her "it is going to get real fucking ugly." A few days later, he told her he would "destroy her business." Again, when Angela Prichard informed police after both incidents, they did not act.

On September 1, 2022, a temporary restraining order (TRO) was filed against Christopher Prichard. The next day, Angela Prichard requested a police escort to go to her home, which she stated she would not be staying at until a safety system could be installed. While Christopher Prichard had recently moved out of the house, Angela Prichard and the police officers with her arrived to find "the doors bolted, utilities shut off and no business phone."

Additionally, "the home was vandalized, including the keepsake chest, hall bath damage, paint on the floor, master bath and master bedroom damage, spare bedroom damage, one mattress was moved around and smeared with dog poop, and guns were moved around the house."

The suit notes that "the abuse and harassment caused by Christopher Prichard's vandalizing the home before Angela Prichard could take possession was ignored by" the police, who did not arrest Christopher Prichard for violating the TRO.

Over the next several days, police were informed that Christopher Prichard had allegedly violated the order nine separate times. Police did eventually arrest Christopher Prichard after a 10th alleged violation, but he was released the next day and continued to harass, stalk, and otherwise violate the TRO against him for the next several weeks.

According to the complaint, Bellevue police "plainly transmitted the message to Christopher Prichard that what he did was permissible and would not cause him to be held accountable."

On October 8, 2022, Christopher Prichard went to Angela Prichard's workplace and shot her in the chest, killing her. Christopher Prichard has since been convicted of first-degree murder.

Why did the police so consistently fail to protect Angela Prichard? According to the suit, the inaction can at least partially be attributed to Christopher Prichard's habit of providing electrical work to several police officers "on a reduced fee or free basis." 

"Christopher Prichard was well known to the Defendants," the suit reads. "And based upon the Defendants' conduct towards him, Christopher Prichard was of the belief that he could engage in any conduct he chose without fear of being arrested or otherwise held accountable by the Bellevue Police Department."

Further, the suit claims that police inaction rose "to the level of an affirmative condoning of private violence, even without explicit approval or encouragement."

While the inaction alleged in the suit is horrifying, it's unclear whether the Bellevue police officers at the center of the case will ever face accountability. Not only are police officers granted wide-ranging qualified immunity protections that prevent them from facing most civil suits—they also aren't even legally required to protect citizens.