Undercover agent 'justified' in fatal Iowa City shooting, county attorney says

Agent had gun pointed to his head, Lyness' report shows

An Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement agent involved in a fatal shooting during an undercover investigation last week acted with “reasonable force and was justified in his actions,” Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness said in a news release issued Friday afternoon.

The agent, identified as Daniel Stepleton, is a 27-year veteran of the Department of Public Safety and has served 23 years with the Division of Narcotics Enforcement, according to Lyness.

Lyness laid out the course of events that took place on Aug. 16 that led to the death Ivan Carl Hardemon, 24, and the arrests of three other men identified as Dudley Demarco, 22, Norman Dudley 20 and John Mulbah 22.

Two narcotics agents were conducting an undercover operation, according to Lyness, and agent Stepleton made arrangements to buy some narcotics at Trailer C7 in Breckenridge Estates, 4494 Taft Ave. in Johnson County, about 7 p.m. Aug. 16.

Once at the mobile home, Hardemon brought Stepleton and the other undercover agent inside, where a short time later two men emerged from the back of the trailer with their faces covered, hats on, holding clubs or rods, according to Lyness.

Hardemon then pulled a handgun from his backpack, Lyness said, and told the masked men to pat down Stepleton and the other agent to check their pockets. Stepleton had his handgun tucked in the back waistband of his pants under his shirt, according to Lyness.

When one of the masked men began  batting down Stepleton and felt the gun, Stepleton leaned against a wall to keep the man from removing the gun, Lyness reported. Hardemon then aimed his gun at Stepleton’s head, actually touching Stepleton’s head with the barrel, the agent reported to investigators.

Hardemon made comments about shooting Stepleton and the other agent, according to Lyness, so Stepleton reached for Hardemon’s gun and tried to push it away from his head and to the left. Stepleton also reached into his back waistband to remove his gun, and he fired four shots, hitting Hardemon in the chest and in the arm, according to Lyness.

Demarco Dudley also was shot twice in the arm, Lyness reported.

Hardemon and the other men ran from the trailer, and fled across the street and through an empty lot, according to Lyness. Hardeomon died in the back of the vacant lot, and Dudley and the other men fled the scene, she reported.

According to criminal complaints and earlier statements from Division of Criminal Investigation authorities, Norman Dudley is accused of picking up his brother Demarco Dudley and driving him to a nearby mobile home park in Iowa City, where Dudley was picked up by an ambulance and rushed to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Dudley was arrested Friday on suspicion of first-degree robbery in connection with the drug investigation gone awry, and he’s being held in the Johnson County Jail on a $100,000 bond. Mulbah, who police believe was also present for the shooting, was arrested on a separate drug violation and is being held on a $50,000 bond.

He was taken into custody after a four-hour standoff on the west side of Iowa City on Friday night. He surrendered to police after they fired tear gas into his apartment.

Norman Dudley turned himself into police on Sunday. He also faces a drug charge in connection with a separate incident, and he’s being held on a $25,000 bond.

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