Suspect Charged in Metro Bar Fight Death May Not Be Alone in Questioning

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URBANDALE, Iowa  --  Urbandale police say Friday's decision to upgrade the charge against Rodney Henricksen to first degree murder did not take long.

"We feel strong that what happened constitutes the charges filed by Urbandale detectives," said Sergeant Chad Underwood with the Urbandale Police Department.

Police were called to the Escape Lounge around 11:45 p.m. on Wednesday, where investigators believe Henricksen assaulted Joshua Sadlon of Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Underwood said, "This assault involved the suspect striking the victim in the head and face area, as well as throwing him onto the concrete."

Sadlon was rushed to a local hospital that evening, but died of his injuries on Thursday.

"It is rare to have a murder first degree charge. We don't file a lot of those charges within this jurisdiction," said Underwood.

Now, Henricksen may not be the only one facing questions. Andy Heiting-Doane, an attorney at Clive's LaMarca Law Group, says Iowa's Dram Shop law could place the Escape Lounge in the spotlight, as well, if the investigation finds that Henricksen was over-served.

"The injured party will have to prove that the establishment served a patron to the point of intoxication or past intoxication and that person went on to cause injury," said Heiting-Doane.  He says the establishment also has options of their own to avoid fault. "The bar can also prove that the intoxication wasn't really a factor and the person would have done the same act and same injury even if he or she had not been drinking."

Last February, the families of two Des Moines police officers who were killed by a drunk driver in April of 2016 filed a Dram Shop lawsuit against The Keg Stand in West Des Moines. Police say the driver, Benjamin Beary, had been drinking there earlier that evening. Heiting-Doane says the Sadlon family could file something similar, but it may be more difficult.

"Proving that the person's intoxication led to the injury is easier when we are talking about drunk driving and more difficult where the action is an assault because some people do get into fights when they are sober," he said.

Normally, the Polk County Attorney's Office would be handling the case, but a witness at the bar that night works for that organization. To avoid a conflict of interest, the Office of the Iowa Attorney General will be handling the case.