Promoter Claims Police Intimidation

Polk County (Iowa) sheriff’s officials are investigating a novice promoter’s claim that officers hired to work concert security scared him into paying them thousands of dollars he didn’t have.

Aaron Lea said he lost money on the Fourth of July Iowa Metalfest, which featured bands including Full Blown Chaos, God Forbid, Switchpin, and Zero Hour at Sleepy Hollow Sports Park. The event was expected to draw 2,000 concert-goers but tallied only 580 tickets. That left the first-time promoter well short of cash to pay the $60-per-hour cost for eight off-duty police officers.

Lea claims the officers forced him into a squad car and drove him across town. Then they brought him back to the concert and allegedly intimidated him with their guns as he wrote out checks he knew would bounce, Lea said.

The officers dispute that claim and have filed a report accusing Lea of fraud.

He has since recanted the part about the guns but is sticking to his overall allegation.

“They never pulled their guns. When they are carrying guns, it’s best to do what they said,” he stated. “I felt like I had to get in that squad car. That was not optional for me.”

Chief Deputy Bill Vaughn said Lea’s allegation of being abducted and held at gunpoint is “preposterous.”

“He hired police officers because they are police officers, and they carry guns,” Vaughn said.

The police department’s office of professional standards is also investigating the situation.