A Council Bluffs man is facing charges after giving his young son a smoldering cigarette to use for lighting illegal fireworks on the Fourth of July. It was suggested the father should face a more severe charge like child endangerment, but
Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilbur disagreed, and decided not to pursue the child endangement charge against the man. "It just seemed to me in this case that having him get the ticket for possession of illegal fireworks, I believe, is punishment enough," Wilbur says.
The Council Bluffs Police Department made a "judgment call," according to Wilbur, in arresting the father on Independence Day, but he doesn’t think he could prove child endangerment.
Wilbur says the father, 28-year-old Lewis Coleman, explained that his eight-year-old boy was trying to light fireworks in celebration of the nation’s birthday. "He was having trouble, couldn’t get the lighter to work or something like that, so his dad basically provided him the cigarette to use as a, I guess I call them a punk," Wilbur says.
The possession of illegal fireworks charge was open and shut, Wilbur says, but proving the man knowingly put his son in harm’s way would have been much more difficult. "It’s not really a question of whether I think, factually, the charges fit," Wilbur says. "I just have to make a decision on what’s the best use of state criminal resources."
Cigarette smoking has been at the forefront of debate in Iowa lately, as the statewide ban on smoking in most public places took effect on July first. A coalition of bar and restaurant owners is suing the state over the ban, claiming it’s unconstitutional as smoking is still permitted in Iowa’s casinos.