Public Safety

Woman recounts attack that ended in CRPD officer-involved shooting

'Neither one of us were going to make it out of the apartment alive'

The scene of Monday night’s officer-involved shooting in Cedar Rapids. (Lee Hermiston/The Gazette)
The scene of Monday night’s officer-involved shooting in Cedar Rapids. (Lee Hermiston/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — If not for a quick response from police, Raelynn Finn said she probably wouldn’t be alive today.

“The choice they had to make was honestly the best choice,” Finn said Wednesday from her hospital room. “If they didn’t act as quickly as they did, my kids wouldn’t have their mom, which is the most important thing to me in my eyes.”

Two Cedar Rapids police officers are on paid administrative leave while the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Markell Bivins is being reviewed. Bivins was shot when police responded Monday night to a report of a domestic disturbance at the Valley High Apartments, 1735 Edgewood Road NW. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating the officer-involved shooting.

Recovering from multiple stab wounds, a ruptured ear drum and a broken jaw, Finn, 25, recounted the encounter. DCI Special Agent in Charge Rick Rahn could not be reached by The Gazette for comment Wednesday.

A lifelong Cedar Rapids resident, Finn said she met Bivins in August 2013. The two dated and she later became pregnant with his daughter. But they broke up in November after Bivins was accused of assaulting her, Finn said. Despite the allegations, Finn said she allowed Bivins to visit their daughter, who was born in March. The two did not live together.

“I was trying to let him have a relationship with his daughter,” Finn said.

But Bivins wanted more, she said. He wanted Finn back, which she resisted due to their “toxic relationship,” she said. On Monday night, Bivins apparently reached a breaking point.

“He basically said I was breaking up his family, if he couldn’t have me, no one could,” Finn said. “He told me his plan that night was neither of us were going to make it out of the apartment alive.”

Finn’s three children — she has two from a prior relationship — were asleep in the apartment at the time, she said. She managed to slip into her bathroom and texted a friend, telling the friend to send police.

Finn said she managed to escape her upstairs apartment unit and enter a neighbor’s unit downstairs, but Bivins followed. The neighbor tried to get Bivins out, but he refused to leave, Finn said. Police quickly arrived on the scene and that’s when Bivins attacked, she said.

“When the police tried to grab him, he tackled me on the couch and he started stabbing me in the face,” she said. “When police told him to stop and he wouldn’t, they shot him twice.”

Finn said she fled the apartment and the neighbor helped tend to her wounds. An ambulance arrived, but the first priority was for Bivins. A police officer helped Finn go upstairs and check on her children, who slept through the entire ordeal, she said. She hasn’t seen her children — ages 6, 5 and 5 months — since the attack, but spoke with them Wednesday morning, she said. Her mother, Wendy Woods, is caring for the children.

Woods said she still is shaken up by how close she came to losing her daughter.

“The phone call I get from her, how scared she was ... I can never get that out of my head,” Woods said. “I wasn’t there to help her.”

Woods said she feels bad for Bivins mother, but said the police had no other option.

“I’m sorry it happened this way and I feel so bad for his mother,” she said. “The family is not bad at all. Both families are suffering. It shouldn’t be like this.”

A second ambulance arrived and took Finn to the hospital. She said she plans on getting out of the hospital either Thursday or Friday, but her jaw is to be wired shut for the next six weeks. Even after surviving a brutal attack, her focus is on her children.

I want to get back home and get back into a regular routine to keep the kids happy,” she said. “I just plan on spending every minute I can with my kids, making sure they’re OK.”



VINTON - A Vinton couple that had hundreds of animals seized from their home in January now face child endangerment charges.According to Vinton police criminal complaints, Marshall R. Galkowski, 36; and Barbara D. Galkowski, 38; e ...

CEDAR RAPIDS - Officials said the man found dead Sunday in Cedar Rapids died of natural causes.Cedar Rapids public safety spokesman Greg Buelow said Joseph F. Botello, 77, was found dead outside of 505 33rd Ave. SW at 2:38 p.m. Su ...

Give us feedback

Have you found an error or omission in our reporting? Tell us here.

Do you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.