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Iowa Deputies Rough Up Levee Commissioner Prior To Oakville Flooding

A different approach was used in Iowa by Des Moines County Sheriff's deputies in Oakville in "helping" flood victims deal with the stressful situation they were faced with, than officials used here in Henderson County.

In Henderson County, Sheriff Mark Lumbeck said he and his deputies went door to door to warn people in Gulfport of the dangers of the flood, and advised them to evacuate, but they each left at their own free will. None were forced off their property, he said, and certainly were not handcuffed.

For various reasons the gas station found it necessary to remain open a little while longer after their warning. But the police came in and informed them of the dangers that could occur if the levee would break and if tanks were not drained. The whole responsibility would lie on their shoulders.

The gas station owner himself, decided to drain the pumps that afternoon, and close the station. No one was forced out.

However, at Oakville, Iowa, a farmer near there who lost 400 acres of corn and 80 acres of beans in the Oakville flooding, gave a disturbing account of what happened there.

According to Andy Brader, he and his wife and four or five others were an eye witness to what he describes as "plain police brutality."

The panic of a flood all started about a week prior to the Oakville levee breach.

Brader said, "Everyone was sandbagging, and doing everything under the sun along with moving their grain, and everything they could get out of the flood zone.

Brader said, "On Saturday night the levee broke west of Oakville and let in a lot of water there. On Sunday morning, me and my wife went down to check things out. The north bottom was under water and we spent an hour looking at different places.

"When we were getting ready to leave, we drove down a little road and drove off the bridge onto a sandy place with one tire kind of on the levee.

A friend of Braders', who was a fourth generation farmer in the area, president of the local school board, and the Levee Commissioner, Sandy Hedges, along with his son, had been riding on the levee, checking out his farm ground.

"Sandy lives 1/4 mile from there on Route 99. We were going to talk to him about what he was seeing when two deputies came from behind my pickup and said to Sandy that he can NOT be on the levee."

"Sandy, a levee commissioner for many years, replied, "Yes, I can! I'm on the levee commission. I have a permit. I am checking my crops!"

The deputies came up on the levee and started shoving him, and he put his hand up to hold them off," Brader said.

"It reminded me of two bulldogs attacking a little dog.

"They chocked him down to the ground with their arm around his throat where he had trouble getting his breath, and then they handcuffed him and held him there."

"Now this is a 68-year-old farmer in knee-boots who had been up most of the night and who wasn't going to hurt a fly. His ancestors had settled the land he now lived on and he's a well respected member of the Oakville community. To see him being tackled and handcuffed and treated like this was humiliating, :just sickening." 

Brader said that it wasn't until after they had Sandy on the ground that they questioned him about where his permit was.

"Sandy told them that he didn't have the permit with him. He hadn't needed it.

"Finally, he convinced them to call the Levee Committee Office and they told them to let Sandy alone," Brader said, "then, they let him stand up, but they still kept him handcuffed.

"Finally, they did take the handcuffs off, but they wrote him a ticket for Interfering with Official Acts, or something like that," Brader said.

"It was around 7 a.m., he said. "Some Christian ladies headed for church stopped, and we headed them off telling them that a deal was going on they didn't want to see. I was so embarrassed for him. Everyone knew him.

"It was unbelievable what had happened, and what did it prove?"

Brader continued, "I think it proved the Des Moines County deputies lacked training to deal with a situation like this.

"In some situations in Burlington, this treatment may not be rough enough, but not out here where people had been preparing for the worst and working most of the night to save their property and the levee.

"They told Sandy, "If you don't submit, we will taser you!'"

"His son was there and told them to let him alone, but they told his son, if he didn't back off, they would taser him as well.

"It was just terrible. It was a plain example of police brutality-It was a shining example of it!" Brader said.

"There was no alcohol, no drugs, and it was totally out of line!  It turned my stomach for a week!  Here deputies are to be here to help and protect. They didn't even try to communicate about what the facts were. It was a "You Can't' and a "Yes I Can' and they took him to the ground.

"Brader said that Sheriff Mike Johnstone was told of the incident and he heard his response was merely: "Better safe than sorry.'" 

"The Sheriff's Chief Deputy Jeff White arrived at the scene shortly after it happened, so they were all aware of the situation," Brader said.

Deputies take levee commissioner to the ground at Oakville, Iowa as his son and other witnesses watch in disbelief.