Des Moines police released a graphic video Tuesday showing an officer-involved shooting that resulted in a woman’s death. In the early hours of July 5, 2017, Des Moines police officers Brian Buck, Brandon Holtan and Brady Pratt were in a squad car going southbound on East 14th Street when they saw Tiffany Potter driving a Chevrolet Tahoe with her friend, Megan Green, in the passenger side. The officers were in the area near the 1600 block because of the high number of crimes reported there in the previous seven days. They were part of the police department’s summer enforcement team that tries to prevent street crime, Parizek said. In that seven-day time period, police had received 27 complaints of suspicious activities and persons, seven reports of gunfire, six reports of disorderly conduct, 13 narcotics calls and two weapons violations in that area. When Potter passed in front of the car, Pratt, the driver of the police car, turned around and started following her without sirens or lights on. Potter suddenly accelerated and parked in the driveway of a home in the 1600 block of East 14th Street, Parizek said. She suddenly exited the car — one officer reported she “kicked it open,” Parizek said. Brian recognized Potter from a prior incident six months earlier, when he’d arrested her for possession of narcotics, Parizek said.
Potter ran behind the home from north to south. Holtan followed her down the driveway, while Buck ran southbound from the north side of the house. Pratt followed Holtan. As Buck turned the corner around the home, he saw that Potter had stopped by a fence, Parizek said. He gave her several commands and told her to get on the ground. At first, he thought she was moving down to a kneeling position when she suddenly said, “No” and then abruptly stood up, Parizek said. “What we now know is that she fired a gun at that time,” Parizek said. Parizek explained there was a moment of hesitation because officers had heard fireworks that evening because it was the Fourth of July. Buck saw Potter move a few steps forward and she held a handgun in her hand. He yelled “gun” to alert the officers, Parizek said. Holtan was on the opposite side of her car and was coming around to speak with Potter. He heard Buck yell “gun,” saw the muzzle flash and saw the gun, Parizek said. It appears in the video that Potter was shot by Holtan at about 2 a.m. after she fired a gun into the air. No officers were injured. Holtan fired 12 shots, 10 of them hitting Potter below the waist. Police said Potter has no connection with the home she stopped at.
On Tuesday, Des Moines police showed body camera footage from all three officers as the incident unfolded. They also showed a still photo from the footage that shows Potter holding the gun high up in the air. Audio is not in the video until after Potter was shot because it was not turned on until after the shooting. It’s unknown whether she was aiming at the officers, Parizek said. Body camera footage from the officers shows Potter laying on the ground with a bloodied leg after she was shot. She is handcuffed and Holtan administers medical care and uses a tourniquet on her. She is heard moaning in the video and the officers ask Potter for her name several times and tell her to breathe. Buck goes to his vehicle to grab medical supplies. “You doing OK? Stay with me, stay with me,” an officer is heard saying in the footage. Potter’s friend in the vehicle was handcuffed as well. Officers found 9 grams of marijuana and more than a pound of methamphetamine in the vehicle, Parizek said. A small 5-shot .22 revolver was found under Potter’s body. Officers only found the round Potter shot inside the revolver, Parizek said.
The serial number on the gun had been destroyed, so investigators were unable to track its owner and learn whether it had been stolen. All of the officers involved are back on patrol after a grand jury found they were justified in shooting Potter. In an interview later with Green, she told officers that Potter told her to run and that Potter said she was going to shoot the officers, Parizek said. The friend said Potter had also assaulted her earlier in the day. Police found marks on her confirming that, Parizek said. It’s unknown why Potter decided to run and fire the gun, but her friend said a pending court case had caused her some stress and they had been using drugs that evening that could have impacted her decision making, Parizek said. Her friend also implied Potter may have had some suicidal thoughts. “The only person who can tell us those things are factual is unfortunately not here to tell us,” Parizek said.