Trott admits to shooting in taped DCI interview
CLARION – Corey Trott told an investigator he knew he’d shot a law enforcement officer during a 2013 standoff in Rockwell City.
Jurors on Wednesday heard a two-hour taped interview conducted after the shooting.
In the interview, Trott, 33, of Rockwell City, said he did not learn until later that it was Rockwell City Police Officer Jamie Buenting who had been shot, or that Buenting was dead.
“I don’t have any regrets,” Trott told Special Agent Jon Turbett, of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, on Sept. 13, 2013, the same day Buenting died.
Trott is charged with first-degree murder and is being tried in Wright County District Court due to a change of venue.
Trott also told Turbett that he had long-standing issues with local law enforcement in Rockwell City.
“In my opinion, the Police Department’s manipulating our family,” Trott said in the interview. “They’re monkeying around with mom and dad’s rental property.”
He believed the Police Department was trying to harass him and was constantly watching him.
On Sept. 12, 2013, Trott told Turbett he saw local law enforcement officers near his home.
About an hour later, Trott said he heard knocking on his door asking him to come out because there was a warrant for his arrest.
Trott said in his interview that he knew the officer banging on his door was Buenting.
“I was in the back and I wasn’t going to get up to the front,” Trott said to Turbett. “I don’t want to play that game. When I heard him I just didn’t answer the door.”
He said he later heard a trooper from the Iowa State Patrol on a public address system asking him to turn a light on in the home to let them know he was OK, but Trott refused.
Trott said he was sitting in his bedroom and looking through a dark sheet that was covering his window. He told Turbett that he had a .223-caliber rifle in his room, which he took out as the officers approached his house.
“I knew what they were up to; they want to shoot at me,” Trott said. “I’m not the aggressor; I play defense.”
He told the agent that he had the gun with him since 2012.
“I felt threatened,” he said.
The gun was a single-shot, bolt-action rifle, which had to be loaded one bullet at a time. He said the gun was loaded when Buenting and other officers with the Fort Dodge/Webster County Special Emergency Response Team approached his house.
He added that he took the safety off.
“If they keep muscling me, I have to show them they can get hurt,” Trott said.
Trott, who spent 13 months in the Army and has owned guns his entire life, referred to himself as “a pretty good shot.”
He could see a light shining through his bedroom window.
“They came up to the window and hit it with the axe while I was sitting there,” he said. “After he broke that window I turned around the corner and fired a round at him and knocked him to the ground.”
He said the bullet hit Buenting in the “throat region” in what he called “the heat of the moment.”
After the shooting, Trott said he went into his basement. He put another round in the gun and sat on a bucket with the rifle pointed at the stairs.
Four hours later, the Iowa State Patrol contacted Trott once again asking him to surrender. Trott told Turbett that’s when he decided to give up.
“By then it was almost 6 in the morning,” Trott said. “They were going to stay there all day. I know they’re just going to keep it up for two or three days or however long.”
Before surrendering, Trott said he ejected the round from the gun and removed 20 rounds from his pockets.
After Turbett revealed to Trott that Buenting had died, he asked if he would say anything to the officer’s family.
“I wouldn’t say anything,” Trott said. “I’m an alpha male and he’s probably an alpha male too. I don’t have any regrets about taking that shot.”
He also assumed the officer wasn’t Buenting.
“They sent some other guy in there to take the fall,” Trott said.
Turbett then revealed that the officer was Buenting.
“I don’t think it was,” Trott said. “I hope that’s true though.”
Webster County Sheriff’s Sgt. Luke Fleener, SERT commander, was standing next to Buenting when the shooting happened. Fleener testified that Buenting broke the window with a fireman’s pole in order to remove the sheet so officers could see inside the house.
Fleener and Buenting were both SERT members.
At the time of the shooting, all SERT members were wearing tactical gear.
“The primary protection is a ballistic vest that is rated higher than what a normal patrol officer is wearing,” Fleener said. “It’s resistant to multiple rifle rounds in the center portion and is designed to protect vital organs.”
However, the gear does not protect the neck, arms or legs.
Fleener said he was contacted about using the SERT by Calhoun County Sheriff’s Deputy Shane Voith. Fleener responded to Rockwell City to assess the situation to see if the team was needed.
He wasn’t entirely sure that Trott was at the home because it was dark and there was no evidence that somebody was inside.
Fleener said the darkness increased the danger of the situation.
“The unknown is the most dangerous thing we face,” he said. “That was a large unknown.”
Rockwell City Assistant Police Chief Mike Anderson testified that officers had made multiple attempts to serve an arrest warrant on Trott since Sept. 8. After receiving a tip that Trott was at his home, officers were sent there along with SERT. The decision to contact SERT was made to attempt a safe, effective arrest, Anderson said.
Although he couldn’t see from his position at the scene what SERT members were doing at the darkened house, Anderson said, “I heard glass breaking, and then I heard a bang.”
Following the one gunshot, “I could hear yelling and radio traffic from my patrol car” and heard a call for an ambulance. Shortly after, he received a call from Rockwell City Police Chief Larry Schoop telling him that Buenting had been hit, followed by another call that the officer had died.
Anderson said he contacted Buenting’s wife to tell her about the shooting and accompanied her to Stewart Memorial Community Hospital in Lake City.
Voith, a SERT member, echoed Anderson’s testimony that the team was contacted because “we felt it would be a safer way” to bring Trott into custody. Voith also described the darkened house and multiple attempts to bring Trott out without incident.
In his opening statement, Joseph McCarville, one of Trott’s attorneys, told jurors “there’s no doubt you will be offended” by some of the statements Trott made to Turbett.
“He says horrible things; he doesn’t show any remorse,” McCarville said, adding that shooting an officer is “not a justifiable act.”
“You can’t fire at law enforcement. There’s no excuse for that,” he said.
However, McCarville said, Trott should be found guilty of a lesser offense than first-degree murder.
Testimony is scheduled to continue today at 9 a.m.