ROCK FALLS – Rock Falls police Monday released dashboard camera video of the Jan. 26 slow pursuit and fatal officer-involved shooting of driver Nathaniel T. "Nate" Edwards, which the Whiteside County attorney deemed was justifiable self-defense.
Rock Falls Sgt. Jonathan Cater shot Edwards, 43, of Sterling, five times in the back around 7:45 p.m. that Friday in the driveway of 1304 Franklin St. as Edwards was backing his Cadillac toward Cater and another officer.
The 23-and-a-half-minute video, released after Sauk Valley Media filed a Freedom of Information Act request Friday, contains graphic language and images. SVM is releasing only a little more than 9 minutes of the video, ending it just before Edwards is pulled out of his car and resuscitation efforts begin.
According to the video, a report released June 29 by Whiteside County State's Attorney Terry Costello, and previous reports:
Edwards was attending a party at the home on Franklin, left and was returning when officer Dustin Sugars spots him on Dixon Avenue weaving and speeding 41 mph in a 30-mph zone.
Edwards ignores Sugars' attempts to pull him over; Whiteside County Deputy Sean Coutts and Cater and officer Ethan Riley, whom Cater was training that night, join the pursuit, which drops down to about 21 mph.
Edwards can be seen using his turn signal and slowing at a yield sign, but he continues to ignore the emergency lights and twice drives around squad cars attempting to block his path.
Three-and-a-half minutes after Sugars tries to initiate the traffic stop, Edwards pulls into the driveway. He ignores three commands to get out of the car, and responds to Sugars' warning, made with gun drawn, that "you're going to get shot" with "kill me," followed by expletives.
Then, after being told "do not back up," he revs the engine, puts the car in reverse and accelerates toward Cater, who is standing behind the car on the passenger side, gun drawn. Riley is behind the car on the driver's side, also with gun drawn.
Cater moves out of the way and fires six shots into the back window, five of which hit Edwards, who puts the car in park before slumping over. Police pull him from the car and perform CPR until the ambulance arrives.
It takes about 46 seconds from the time Edwards pulls into the driveway around 7:09 p.m. until the shots are fired. He is pronounced dead at 8:48 p.m. at CGH Medical Center.
Toxicology results showed Edwards, who had a long history of drug- and alcohol-related traffic offenses, was drunk and high on marijuana at the time; his blood alcohol content was .189, more than double the legal limit to drive.
Cater, 43, a 10-year veteran of the force, "reasonably believed" that his life and Riley's life were in danger, Costello concluded after considering the ISP report.
There also is video from two Whiteside County Sheriff's squad cars, which presumably will be among the information provided when the lead investigating agency, Illinois State Police, responds to a FOIA request seeking results of its investigation.
The agency has until at least Friday to do so.