State

Officer involved in fatal shooting back on job

state’s attorney takes over case; will determine what, if any, charges to file

Nathaniel T. "Nate" Edwards, 43, of Sterling
Nathaniel T. "Nate" Edwards, 43, of Sterling

Illinois State Police turned the results of their investigation into the fatal officer-involved shooting of a motorist in Rock Falls over to the Whiteside County state’s attorney Monday morning, the lead investigator said.

The officer involved, who has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting, returned to work later that day, Rock Falls Police Chief Tammy Nelson said.

What charges, if any, will be filed against him will be decided by State’s Attorney Terry Costello.

In the meantime, the officer’s eager to get back to work, and Nelson sees “no reason” not to bring him back, she said.

Until Costello makes his decision, the officer will not be identified, Nelson said.

Nathaniel T. “Nate” Edwards, 43, of Sterling was shot several times in the back and killed about 7:45 p.m. Jan. 26 in the driveway of a Rock Falls home after a police pursuit. Police have said Edwards was accelerating toward the officer who shot him, who was behind Edwards’ car.

The ISP report includes “dash cam video from two squad cars on scene, and another that arrived moments after the shooting,” Lt. Chris Endress of the ISP’s Integrity Task Force said in a news release.

In addition to statements from neighborhood witnesses, the officer involved and four witness officers, the ISP report also includes the autopsy report, including the results of toxicology tests, and laboratory analysis of the service weapon and fired evidence, the release said.

“The Illinois State Police will not release any additional information until the state’s attorney has completed his review and findings,” the release said.

Unless Costello asks for more information, the ISP’s investigation is concluded, Endress said Monday afternoon.

“On behalf of the investigative team, we greatly appreciate the cooperation we received from the public, the patience and understanding from the Edward’s family, and the outstanding assistance we received from the Sterling Police Department and the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Office,” Endress said in the release.

Edwards’ mother, Alfredia Edwards of Chicago, is suing the city and the unidentified officer in federal court for more than $1 million, claiming that the officer’s “wrongful use of deadly force” violated her son’s civil rights.

Investigators have said Edwards at first refused to stop the vehicle; then when he did stop, he did not respond to verbal commands to get out, and instead put the car into reverse and accelerated toward the officer who shot him several times.

The suit claims that the shooting was “intentional, willful and wanton,” “unprovoked,” “unjustified,” “excessive and unreasonable,” and that the use of deadly force violated Edwards’ Fourth and 14th Amendment rights.

The Fourth Amendment protects citizens against unreasonable search and seizure. The 14th provides equal protection under the law for all citizens; it has been interpreted to mean regardless of race, sex, religion, etc.

In this case, Edwards is black; the officer, a 10-year veteran of the force, is white.

Investigators said Rock Falls police tried to pull over Edwards that night for an unspecified reason.

When he did not comply, a lengthy pursuit ensued.

Edwards eventually pulled into the driveway at 1304 Franklin St., where he was attending a party.

He did not respond to officers’ verbal commands to get out of the car, and instead put it in reverse and accelerated toward the Rock Falls officer, who then shot him, investigators said.

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