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Lawsuit filed in officer-involved shooting


On Tuesday, May 21, Melinda Austin, the mother of Niangua resident Dylan Austin, filed a multi-million dollar seven count federal civil rights lawsuit against Niangua Police Department officer Dwayne McAtee in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri. The Mail was notified by Austin's attorney about the filing.

This comes after Dylan Austin was killed in an officer-involved shooting on March 13, 2024. The lawsuit alleges that Officer Dwayne McAtee pursed Dylan Austin into his Webster County home without a warrant and shot him in the bedroom in front of his mother.

Melinda Austin alleges that McAtee waged an improper campaign of stalking and harassment against her son that was witnessed and reported by many in the community. The suit also alleges that on the night in question McAtee falsely claimed that Austin was operating an ATV without a light where local surveillance camera recordings show that Austin was using a light. 

The statement from the attorney continues in stating that McAtee pursued Austin who, fearing McAtee, attempted to find safety at the Niangua mayor’s home. McAtee chased Austin to Austin’s nearby home, McAteee broke through the front door without a warrant and McAtee fired 8 shots, killing Austin in front of his mother in their house while a ten year old slept nearby.

At the time he was shot, Mrs. Austin states her son only had his flashlight in his hand.

The suit claims the City of Niangua was careless in hiring and supervising McAtee who had a history of wrongfully discharging his firearm including while working as a police officer for the City of Strafford.

The suit goes on to claim McAtee had no reason to fear for his safety or to use lethal force against Austin. McAtee was the only police officer employed by Niangua at the time.

As of this date, McAtee has not been charged by the Webster County Prosecuting Attorney or indicted by a Grand Jury and is innocent until proven guilty.

The surviving family members, Melinda Austin (mother) and Dallas Austin (brother) are hopeful that McAtee and the City of Niangua will be held accountable.

A copy of the lawsuit is available to download at: https://www.dhhlawfirm.com/civil-rights-lawsuit-filed-in-niangua-police-shooting/

As The Mail reported previously, an officer-involved shooting at 299 Myrtle Street in Niangua occurred around 9 p.m. March 13.

Immediate reports from the scene alleged a four-wheeler and foot pursuit led to law enforcement entering a residence where Austin was shot and killed. 

The Mail confirmed this timeline with Webster County Sheriff Roye Cole following the event, who said there were numerous agencies investigating the events leading up to the shooting.

"The Niangua Officer was involved in a traffic stop and tried to make an arrest. A deputy was there to back him up. The suspect took off on foot where they followed him into a residence," Cole said.

"The suspect did have a gun on him and we've called in outside agencies to investigate."

Melinda Austin is represented by civil rights attorney Craig R. Heidemann and the law firm of Douglas, Haun & Heidemann PC.

The Mail will have more on this story as it develops. 


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