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FORMER OFFICER: Court Reverses Conviction

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The Iowa Court of Appeals has reversed the burglary and arson conviction of a former Forest City police officer.

Thaddeus Ellenbecker was convicted of second degree burglary and second degree arson in 2012. Prosecutors say he started a fire at the Forest City Police Station in 2010 and also stole a gun from another officer’s vehicle.

During an interview with Division of Criminal Investigation agents on October 20th, 2011 Ellenbecker was shot. Officials say Ellenbecker struggled with the agents and that’s when he was shot.

Ellenbecker filed an appeal to the convictions claiming he hadn’t been read his Miranda rights before DCI agents interviewed him in the hospital following the shooting and statements he made to them should not have been allowed as evidence in his trial.

The Court of Appeals agreed that Ellenbecker was already in custody when the statements to DCI were made and he was not advised about his Miranda rights.

Ellenbecker had been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The case has now been remanded for further proceedings.


  • Harry Moyer

    Isn’t this lovely. First he gets only10 years for a class A felony of arson running concurrent to the burglary. Most get 20 years + for arson.
    Now the courts let him out because he hadn’t been read his Miranda Rights??? The US Supreme Court ruled over 2 decades ago that an individual doesn’t need to have his/her Miranda Rights read to them every time they are confronted with law enforcement. All that has to be proven is that the person had ample knowledge of their Miranda Rights. Now if this cop doesn’t know his Miranda Rights, every person that he supposedly gave those Rights to upon arrest should be able to appeal their conviction.
    Aaaaah…. I love it when the police are held to a lower standard that those they serve. Reminds me of my favorite example. An Officer named Trimble in Urbangdale.
    Officer Trimble was pulled over on the NE side of Des Moines a few years back. He had a toy in his no-no while driving naked from the wasted down. Not only that, he had a large quantity of meth that he stole from the Urbandale PD evidence locker. All the while sharing it with his prostitute gal-pal in a van full of porn. (It was rumored to have child porn too.) An untold number of criminal drug cases were thrown out because of evidence tampering. All this and more, and he only got 5 years probation w/no jail time.

    • bg

      Fascinating comment, though ignorant nonetheless. Second degree at son is a class C felony, not a class A felony. And it is common knowledge that if one is in the presence of a police officer as he was and is not free to leave, they need to be read Miranda. The same applies to everyone who is in custody, always has. I do agree that he needs to serve time for his actions. If you are looking to vent about your obvious hatred for law enforcement then perhaps you should find a better platform or at least use proper grammar. This former officer is a disgrace, I agree, but it does not give you the right to paint all law enforcement with the the same brush.

      • Harry Moyer

        Delbert… he was initially charged with First Degree Arson. It was dropped to Second in the plea agreement.
        You are correct about the Miranda. What I had read applied only to incarcerated prisoners.
        And any hatred I have for the police is justified by facts. 1) Not all police are corrupt, liars, bullies that violate citizens rights on a regular basis; but a number of them do. 2) MANY of those that don’t act in this way, are witness to these violations by their colleges on a regular basis.
        3) This makes them JUST AS GUILTY as those that they witness. Pick your own phrase: conspiracy, collusion, etc. It’s the “blue shield of silence” mentality that paints the police the same.
        If you are defending this, it would be YOU that is, either willfully or not, ignorant.

  • Chad P.

    Yeah it’s a bunch of BS that cops are given special privileges. He sure the hell should of known his Miranda rights w/ out being told.

  • Kat

    @Chad— he isn’t being given “special privileges”, it’s his constitutional right to have had his Miranda rights read to him, regardless of whether or not he knows them. If it were anyone else, this would be an issue, but because he’s law enforcement he doesn’t deserve the same rights? That seems a little hypocritical…

    Furthermore, there wasn’t a “plea agreement” ever made, so that’s just completely not true.

    I find it rather interesting that you are acting like he is still guilty, even though currently there is no evidence suggesting that he is. Did you ever think that maybe, just maybe, he was innocent all along….

  • A

    Its too bad the fact are never reported. Like the lack of evidence in general, or no evidence actually. Someone just needed to take the fall. Its bad form to coerce someone into a confession while they are recovering from surgery after being shot by some guy running around around the corner and not knowing what was happening before he pulled the trigger in front of his wife and 3 little boys. Oh and while heavily drug. Truth is, my cousin has been a hero to many people in his life, even before he was a police officer. This is not something in his character to do and there is no evidence that proves he did any of it.

    • Kat

      Thank you “A” for posting something to his defense! I’ve known Thad since I was 6 years old, and for you to say he’s been a hero is very much true, and in my case, and understatement! This is very much out of his character and the fact that they are pinning it on him and that people are being SO nasty without actually knowing what we know, is ridiculous! I never thought someone so close to me would have something like this happen, I could imagine how other looking in would respond if someone they loved so dearly and they were in a similar situation! It’s not a cop “getting off again”. It’s an INNOCENT man getting the justice he deserves! He was innocent from the very beginning… the people would know that if they actually knew the facts and didn’t just listen to what is “reported”!

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