Urbandale Man Dies From Bean Bag Rounds

13 WHO-TV | June 10, 2009
By Jannay Towne

An Urbandale man involved in a standoff with Polk County deputies Monday died Tuesday morning. After negotiation attempts failed, deputies shot 21-year-old Justin Schleuning with a bean bag gun. The rounds were meant to stun him, but wound up killing him

About 1:16 AM Monday, dispatchers received a call from Schleuning. He told deputies he had a loaded gun and wanted to kill himself. Authorities traced his call to the 300 block of NW 74th Avenue just south of Ankeny. "A little after four that same morning, he did exit his vehicle. Less than lethal munitions were deployed and he was taken to the hospital," says Jana Rooker from the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

"I don't like the term less lethal," says Gil Hansen, a firearms training and defensive tactics instructor at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. He says so-called bean bag guns can safely diffuse a situation. "They can subdue a person without deadly force and because they aren't intended to cause death or bodily injury," he says. But the danger is still there. Filled with birdshot and fired from a 12 gauge shotgun, the weapon still packs a punch.

"This is not the outcome anyone had intended. It's an unfortunate accident and our deepest sympathies go out to Justin's family as well as the officers involved," says Rooker. Officials have yet to say if Schleuning was armed. The Division of Criminal Investigation is handling the case.