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Fatal shooting by Woodbury County deputy deemed justified

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The Woodbury County attorney’s office ruled that deadly force was justified in the fatal shooting of a Sergeant Bluff man.

Deputy Eric Fay fatally shot 35-year-old Michael Meredith on the night of January 12. Fay was responding to a report of a burglary in progress at a mobile home when the suspect began to charge Fay and the other responding deputy. Fay fired his weapon at Meredith twice after the other deputy’s taser failed to stop him.

After an investigation by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and a review of body camera footage, the county attorney has deemed Meredith’s death a justifiable homicide.

“We did a thorough review. These are not easy circumstances for anybody,” said county attorney Partick Jennings at a press conference on Tuesday. “But, we came to what we felt was a just result.”

Woodbury County Sheriff Chad Sheehan said the officers were forced into a life or death situation. He said his officers showed a lot of courage in dealing with the situation.

“No law enforcement officer wants to be forced to take actions that were taken that evening,” Sheehan said. “But I thank God, there are men and women willing to place themselves in harm's way to keep our citizens safe.”

Body camera footage from a responding officer shows deputies repeatedly asking Meredith to show his hands. Meredith struck Fay in the arm with a tire iron before Fay fired shots.

Jennings said the footage showed that the deputy did not shoot until he felt his life was in danger.

“It was reasonable under the circumstances known to the deputy Eric Fay for him to fear for his safety,” he said.

Fay, who has worked in law enforcement for 12 years, was placed on paid administrative leave after the shooting. Sheehan said county law enforcement will welcome him back once he feels ready.

Local officials have released the body cam footage to the public via DVD.