Protesters march in Cedar Rapids to demand more information in fatal police shooting (Updated)

Photo courtesy of Cedar Rapids Police Department’s website

Update: On Wednesday night, Advocates for Social Justice announced the scheduled protest for Thursday evening was “on hold” because “The Rich family had been provided the opportunity to view the [CRPD body-camera] footage.”

Protesters demanding more information about the fatal shooting of William Rich by Cedar Rapids police officers on Aug. 30, marched from the Cedar Rapids Police Department to the Linn County Courthouse on May’s Island on Tuesday evening. The group of more than 30 protesters included family and friends of Rich.

In particular, protesters want the police body-cam footage of the shooting to be released. According to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), which is investigating the shooting, Rich was “brandishing a weapon” while two CRPD officers were “attempting to detain” him, leading to officers shooting Rich. Neither DCI nor CRPD has said what the alleged weapon was. The officers sustained no injuries during the encounter.

DCI issued a news release on Wednesday morning identifying the officers as Investigator Christopher Christy; and Sgt. Bryson Garringer. Christy and Garringer were placed on paid administrative leave following the shooting. DCI said both officers had voluntarily submitted to questioning as part of its investigation.

Members of Rich’s family have said he was not carrying a weapon at the time, and he was kneeling with his hands up and had told the officer he was surrendering just before being shot.

Christy and Garringer encountered Rich at the Inn Circle, which provides transitional housing in Cedar Rapids, at approximately 1 a.m. on Aug. 30. The officers were responding to a report of a domestic disturbance. No details regarding the alleged disturbance have been released.

The Gazette reported that the week before the shooting, Rich had pleaded guilty to one count of felony domestic abuse assault that occurred on May 8 at the same address as the Aug. 30 incident. Rich was given a five-year suspended sentence and placed on probation.

After rallying on the steps of the courthouse, some of the protesters spoke with Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell, who was at the McGrath Amphitheatre for the City Manager’s 1-Bag Challenge cleanup. Speaking to the Gazette afterwards, O’Donnell said, “The only thing we can guarantee as a city is we will do everything we can do to help in the investigation.”

In its statement on Wednesday, DCI said that after the investigation is completed, its report will be sent to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office for review.

Meanwhile, another protest has been announced for Thursday at 5 p.m. in front of the Cedar Rapids Police Department (505 1st St SW).