Public Safety

Autumn Steele's family settles federal lawsuit

Police still refuse to release records about Burlington woman's fatal shooting by an officer

A memorial stands outside the former home of Autumn Steele, a woman shot and killed by an Iowa police officer, in Burlington, Iowa, in September. (Photo by Daniel Acker for the Washington Post)
A memorial stands outside the former home of Autumn Steele, a woman shot and killed by an Iowa police officer, in Burlington, Iowa, in September. (Photo by Daniel Acker for the Washington Post)

The family of a Burlington woman shot by police in 2015 has settled a wrongful-death lawsuit with the city.

A notice in U.S. District Court show Autumn Steele’s family alerted the court Tuesday the case had been settled, which means the Aug. 20 trial has been canceled.

Gabriel Steele, Autumn Steele’s husband, filed the federal lawsuit in 2016 along with Gina Colbert, Autumn Steele’s mother, and Sean Schoff, listed as a friend of the Steeles’ two young sons.

The suit claimed Burlington Police Officer Jesse Hill fired his gun in an “unreasonable, unnecessary and reckless manner,” on Jan. 6, 2015, striking and killing Autumn Steele in her front yard. The family asserts the Burlington Police Department did not properly train Hill or provide supervision in the use of deadly force.

Hill, responding to a domestic abuse call to the Steeles’ house, found the couple in a verbal argument in the front yard. Gabriel Steele was holding their three-year-old son at the time, the lawsuit states. Police have said the Steeles’ dog, Sammy, attacked Hill, which caused him to accidentally shoot Autumn Steele.

No criminal charges were filed against Hill and he returned to work.

There was a hearing on a motion for summary judgment in the case May 24 and a pretrial conference was set for July 25. Court records don’t list the financial terms of the settlement.

Police records about Steele’s death are subject to a contested case before the Iowa Public Information Board. Steele’s family and the Burlington Hawk Eye newspaper filed complaints with the board after the Burlington Police and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation refused to release a full body camera video and other records about the case.

l Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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