Deputy acted in self-defense
The Van Buren County Attorney’s Office has determined that the deputy who shot Brighton resident Robert Dooley on Oct. 16 did so in self-defense and will not press charges against the deputy.
According to a press release from the Van Buren County Attorney’s Office, Van Buren County Sheriff’s Deputy Jon Tharp shot Dooley, 59, while Dooley was standing on the side of Highway 2. Dooley was armed with what appeared to be a rifle. He refused to drop the weapon when asked to do so multiple times and pointed the rifle at Deputy Tharp, whereupon Tharp shot Dooley.
Dooley’s weapon turned out to be a vintage air rifle manufactured to replicate a Winchester Model 1894 lever-action rifle. It was found with a wire attached to it that went over Dooley’s right arm.
The Van Buren County Attorney’s Office came to its conclusions after reviewing the 911 calls to the sheriff’s office on Oct. 16 as well as interviews with the responding officers and photographs of the scene and images from an in-dash camera in a patrol car.
Based on that evidence, the Van Buren County Attorney’s Office has pieced together a narrative of what it believed occurred on Oct. 16.
At 11 a.m. that day, Tharp and Chief Deputy Brad Hudson responded to a 911 call of a male subject, Dooley, walking west along Highway 2 in Van Buren County, east of the town of Cantril.
Reports from motorists indicated that the subject was armed with a rifle and wearing a Civil War-era military uniform. One caller reported that the subject was making obscene gestures at passing motorists.
While en route to the scene, Tharp and Hudson were advised that the subject appeared to be walking away from a disabled vehicle, which was displaying an upside-down American flag. The deputies received more reports from passing motorists who said the subject was making obscene gestures at them.
Hudson activated his emergency lights but did not activate his siren for fear of alerting the gunman of his approach, which would give the gunman time to take up a defensive position.
Upon arriving at the scene, the deputies saw a vehicle parked on the westbound shoulder with its trunk open and an American flag hanging upside down near the trunk. This was near the intersection of Highway 2 and Hickory Avenue.
The deputies could see Dooley walking west along the shoulder of Highway 2. Tharp called out to Hudson and he could see the man had a rifle. Hudson saw Dooley make an obscene gesture at a passing vehicle.
As the deputies’ vehicle approached Dooley, Tharp had his weapon trained on Dooley and he began shouting at Dooley to drop his rifle. Hudson stopped the squad car about 20 yards from Dooley and then exited the vehicle.
Dooley turned around and raised his rifle barrel toward Tharp, who was then outside the passenger door of Hudson’s vehicle. Both deputies believed Dooley was raising the rifle to fire it at one or both of the deputies.
Dooley made no statements to the deputies. Hudson had trained his weapon on Dooley and could see him through his optical sight. He was preparing to engage Dooley when he heard Tharp fire one round, which Hudson could see struck Dooley, causing him to fall to the ground where he lay motionless.
The deputies determined that Tharp’s shot killed Dooley instantly. This was confirmed by the Van Buren County Medical Examiner at 12:03 p.m. that day.
The Van Buren County Attorney’s Office received information about the incident from Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agents Jeff Uhlmeyer, Rick Rahn and Matt George, who investigated the shooting.
Four days before Dooley was shot and killed, he led Washington County deputies on a high-speed chase along Highway 1 near Kalona on Oct. 12. Dooley was arrested at that time for reckless driving, eluding a law enforcement vehicle, speeding, failure to obey a stop sign and failure to maintain registration plate.
Court records show that Johnson County authorities reported that Dooley was known to go armed and to have a BB gun that had the appearance of a real pistol.