IOWA CITY — A demonstration against police brutality in Iowa City turned violent when protesters broke windows at a county building and threw rocks and water bottles at officers arresting a man, the sheriff said Wednesday.
Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek said protesters also shot pepper spray at deputies during the late Tuesday altercation and deputies responded in kind.
The violence came after hundreds of people protested in Iowa City for hours against the recent death of George Floyd and police violence against minorities. In Des Moines, protesters also marched to the governor’s mansion Tuesday and rallied outside the Capitol building.
The clash in Iowa City occurred before midnight near the Johnson County Health and Human Services building, which suffered an estimated $1,500 in window damage and other vandalism.
Police arrested University of Iowa student Sevad Duratovic, saying he was seen “stepping away from a broken window carrying a baseball bat” and then swinging at the window of a nearby vehicle.
Duratovic was tackled and handcuffed, and said he was hit in the eyes with pepper spray as he was walking to a police vehicle. He said his roommate and others were sprayed after they tried to tell deputies they arrested the wrong man.
Pulkrabek said deputies had rocks and water bottles thrown at them and were pepper sprayed while making the arrest.
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“Our officers in turn used pepper (spray) on the individuals that had encircled them as they were trying to arrest this subject,” he said in an email.
Duratovic, 22, said Wednesday that he didn’t break any windows or ever swing the bat. He said he picked up the rolling bat from the ground after someone else smashed windows and gave it to another person after a few seconds.
Duratovic, of Waterloo, is charged with third-degree criminal mischief, an aggravated misdemeanor. He was released from jail Wednesday morning.
His attorney, Shawn Fitzgerald, said he was requesting footage from surveillance cameras on the building that he hoped would help exonerate his client.
Pulkrabek said investigators were also working to collect “any and all video.”
Floyd, who was black and handcuffed, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer used his knee to pin down Floyd’s neck for several minutes while Floyd gasped for air and eventually stopped moving. Police were arresting Floyd on a charge of suspicion of having passed a counterfeit bill.