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Iowa Supreme Court overturns decisions made by subordinate courts against a former Iowa City police officer



Des Moines, Iowa – The Iowa Supreme Court granted the first favorable verdict to a former Iowa City Police Officer who had sought for reinstatement. The Supreme Court determined unanimously that the appeal filed by former Officer Emilio Puente to revoke his resignation was improperly heard.

On a walkway in downtown Iowa City in November 2021, Officer Puente and two other officers were apprehending a man. Three officers are seen standing over the suspect in bystander-captured cell phone footage, as other people can be heard screaming for the officers to let go of the man.

Officer Puente may be seen hitting the man in the video. Officer Puente resigned some months later to avoid being fired. Puente later admitted to the Iowa City Press-Citizen that Chief Dustin Liston had put pressure on him to retire, forcing him to do so under duress. Although Puente’s union representative attended the meeting, he maintains that he was not given enough time to obtain independent legal assistance.

Puente requested reinstatement from the Iowa City Civil Service Commission, but they rejected his appeal of his resignation. Puente eventually appealed the case to the Iowan district and appellate courts, where they rejected his position.

The decision states that the matter was improperly determined by the municipal commission and that lower courts neglected to address the mistake, but it does not absolve or restore Puente.

Puente brought his case before the Civil Service Commission, but its members rejected it on the grounds that the city had submitted the appeal after the allotted two weeks. However, Puente rightly contended, according to the Supreme Court, that the deadline only applied in situations of “discharge, demotion, or suspension.” Puente resigned before to his release, hence the deadline isn’t applicable.

In the end, the case is reset by the court’s ruling on Friday. They threw out the decisions made by the subordinate courts and commenced fresh legal processes.

Iowa’s News Now has contacted Puente’s attorney and the City of Iowa City for comment; we are awaiting their replies.