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Midlands  Today
 21-Day Archive

Published Monday
July 2, 2001

Shooting 'Happened So Fast'

BY DAVE MORANTZ and SHANNON HENSON


WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITERS

Logan, Iowa - A Missouri Valley police officer remained on paid leave Monday as the Harrison County attorney reviewed the fatal shooting of a woman in her front yard late Saturday.

Officer Aaron Brensel fired two shots at 40-year-old Diana Reese after she threatened the officer with a knife, the Harrison County Sheriff's Office said.

Missouri Valley Police Chief Jason Smith said Monday that he expects the County Attorney's Office to clear Brensel in the shooting, allowing the officer to return to duty. An internal investigation found that Brensel acted properly and followed department policies, Smith said.

Brensel, 23, joined the department in November 1999. He worked as a trainee for about nine months before attending the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy and graduating in November 2000, Smith said.

Brensel went to Reese's home Saturday after a neighbor called to report suspicious activity, Harrison County Sheriff Terry Baxter said. A witness said Reese and a man were having sex in her front yard.

When Brensel arrived at the house, Reese went inside and came back out with a knife, Baxter said. She then began arguing with a male friend and stabbed him in the forearm, Baxter said. Reese then threatened Brensel with the knife.

A witness said the officer told Reese to drop the knife six to eight times before shooting her. He fired two shots, both of which hit Reese in the chest.

The man who was with Reese, Charles Mahoney, said Monday that he heard four shots, not two.

Mahoney, 39, of Missouri Valley, said he and Reese were drinking strawberry wine heavily during the evening. Reese undressed, ran around her yard naked, tried to have sex with him and called him another man's name, Mahoney said. The two were not dating, he said, but had been friends since childhood. Both grew up in Missouri Valley, a town of almost 3,000 about 20 miles northeast of Omaha off Interstate 29.

"I didn't want to have sex with her, and that's what made her go crazy," Mahoney said Monday.

When the officer arrived at the house, Reese was wearing a long, white T-shirt and Mahoney was dressed but barefoot. She attacked Mahoney with what he thought was a screwdriver, stabbing him three times in the arm.

Reese already had the weapon when the officer arrived, Mahoney said. He said he tried to calm her down and then said, " 'Are you happy, we're going to jail,' and then boom, boom, boom, boom - four shots. She fell down and asked me to help her and then she said, 'Run.'"

Mahoney said he was holding one of Reese's arms when the bullets hit her. He said he could not remember whether the officer warned Reese to drop the weapon.

"It all happened so fast," he said.

Fearing he might be shot next, Mahoney said he ran barefoot down a gravel road and across a creek before his brother found him and took him to talk to police. He refused medical treatment and was not arrested.

Monday afternoon, Mahoney wore a white bandage around his right forearm. A pair of shoes lay in front of the wooden stoop where the two had been drinking. Reese's house sits on the northwest edge of town. A chain-link fence and shrubs line a small front yard.

Mahoney said Reese had been taking Prozac to treat depression.

"Her personality just turned so sudden that night," he said.

Baxter said authorities are awaiting autopsy results to confirm whether drugs or alcohol were involved in the incident. They are also studying a tape of the incident from a camera in Brensel's cruiser. The tape captured audio from the shooting but was not pointed at Brensel and Reese, said Smith, the police chief.

Baxter said police frequently had to deal with Reese. This spring, Reese pleaded guilty to making a bomb threat against the neighbor who called with the complaint Saturday night.

Witnesses and Mahoney said Reese was a mother of three whose children - ages 8 to 11 - did not live with her. She had not been working, according to witnesses and court records.

According to a handwritten note by Reese submitted in the bomb-threat case, she thought her neighbors wanted the state to take away her children.

"I didn't have anything to do with that stupid bomb threat thing," she wrote in late April. "I wouldn't be that stupid or drunk like that, etc. dumb! to risk losing my kids."

Baxter said the children have been in state custody since before the shooting.

Smith said it was not unusual for one officer to respond to a report of suspicious activity. The department has seven full-time officers, including the chief and a sergeant, and three reserve officers. Brensel was the only full-time officer working Saturday evening, Smith said.

"I'd prefer to be able to send two officers on every call," he said. "But with our staffing, when we get a call about two people having sex in the front yard, we send one."

WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID...
Hang in there aaron!! - mb
As I stated earlier, Pepper spray works... - GO
Ya peper spray works, but not when you are... - To Go
I think Aaron made the correct decision. It... - ME
Hey! Another police expert rendering their... - Dave
Use of lethal force is justified against... - JCS
Judge not, lest ye be judged. - Walk in his shoes
The whole community feels for you Aaron.... - Class of 2000
I think Aaron was doing his job! They are... - Jo
this just shows how trigger happy some of... - dan
I think the police officer needs to be... - black bart
I'm sure under the law the shooting will be... - Bob
Aaron...know that the people of Harrison... - Harrison County Resident
Seems to me the two shots in the chest... - To Dan
What about a tazzer or stun gun.I do not... - larry sterbick
I am sorry to see such poor research on... - To Dan
Dan, if somebody is coming at me or my wife... - To Dan
Arron my prayers are with you! You have... - PENNY A
Phasers on stun! Oops... that's a TV show!... - Rhino to larry sterbick
Everyone is going to have their opinion on... - 1995 Graduate
I don't know what situations you used... - To: GO
Yes Pepper spray could be an alternative. I... - HN to GO
I think that Aaron did what was needed to... - Mo Valley Girl
Aaron we are all behind you 100%. You did... - Mari
First of all Black Bart is not a police... - To black bart
For those of you who are attacking this... - Grandpa (i can no longer be silent)
Black Bart I really hope for the sake of... - Nollege to: black bart
To GO: You don't bring pepper spray to a... - Get Real Go
Arron is a friendly, helpful person,he... - PENNY A
Black Bart if you really are a police... - BK
I'll make this simple and split it right... - MM
Aaron,You did what you were trained to... - Tina
I live very close to where this all... - MV resident
I am a resident of missouri valley and I am... - to black bart
Shot in the Chest??? Wouldn't the arm or... - Another Resident...
Aaron- You are a fine young officer and we... - Missouri Valley Resident
I would put our police department up... - MV is best
i would like to say officer you did what... - mv resident
For those of you who are showing your... - concerned MV resident
Hey GO, would you bring a cup of water to a... - Ann
I feel the officer was totally justified in... - Outside Looking In
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice... - DSM
I don't feel this officer was in the right.... - GUN VERSA'S KNIFE
I was attacked by a crazed person with a... - Retired Cop
To those of you critical to the young... - Former Resident
I think this is another over use of force... - 2bnamedlater
I suggest everyone stop backing this police... - dvm
There is nothing wrong with a police... - Omaha Mike
sounds like this is going to be a... - x harrison co. res.
Not everyone from Mo Valley are behind this... - Mo Valley resident
How about some support for her poor... - What about the poor kids? MV resid.
To all you Mo Valley residents, not... - Another MoValley resident
This type incident is not new, here is an... - Omaha Mike
If you have never been a police officer of... - Deano
If a trained policeman can't take a knife... - Ron
This woman brought this on her self. When... - Mark, Ames IA
Those of you that think that the officer... - BG
Sounds like you've read one too many True... - T o Ron
None of us where in this officer's shoes,... - Sandy
This officer did exactly what he is trained... - mickey
The fact is it wasn't you. So don't judge.... - to ron
I am proud to live in Mo Valley. I am very... - to mv resident
We aren't trained to shoot the arm or the... - training
I would suggest to anyone that doesn't... - ME
Maybe you don't understand the small town... - to Omaha Mike
Cops save lives. Just hope one day that... - To police brutality
I HAVE NEVER RELIED ON A COP TO SAVE MY... - TO:TO POLICE BRUTALITY
Overzelous policing belongs in... - DSM
First of all, let's just all say DUH!!!... - TO POLICE BRUTALITY
Anyone else getting sick and tired of cops... - POLICE BRUTALITY
Does it seem like all of the negative posts... - More than one name
I live with a cop. I know how they act of... - to police brutality
We love you Brensel. Be strong buddy you... - you have our support
The children are innocent vicitms of this... - PA
Don't think that they aren't. Cops don't... - The Cops are victims too in these things
Try to remember what you said the next time... - to dvm

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