Authorities forced to release former suspect in downtown Sioux C - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Authorities forced to release former suspect in downtown Sioux City bar shooting

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

A man who was charged, but never tried in a shooting outside a downtown Sioux City bar, is a free man.

Back in October, two medical experts found Solomon Harris mentally incompetent to stand trial for the shooting at MacBehr's bar in November of 2012. Harris was accused of shooting 20-year old Natacha Butera, a foreign exchange student from Rwanda. Police say Harris fired the gun while arguing with another man, but the bullet struck Butera in the chest and an arm. She recovered.

Since it wasn't possible to prosecute Harris, criminally, authorities had hoped for a civil commitment to a state agency to treat him. But, a change is state law, which is set to take effect this summer, made a civil commitment difficult. Amy Klocke, Goosmann Law Firm said, "The legislature, last session, repealed the code section that allowed a person to be civilly committed, such as in this instance. And, a new law has not been written to replace the section being repealed in July 1st."

So, the state had no choice but to release Harris.

There were two other options. An Iowa resident can serve as a "guardian" to Harris, who is considered intellectually-disabled. The state can also opt for a state guardianship service through an agency. But, the Woodbury County Attorney couldn't find an Iowan to become Harris' guardian. And, the state Attorney General says northwest Iowa doesn't have any facilities with guardianship programs.

Harris's mother picked him up, Monday, when he was released from jail. She has promised to take him back home to Mississippi where she intends to help care for him.

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