Holidays are hard for Patty Thorington. Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays — gathering with family just reminds her that her son isn't there. 

July 27 was supposed to be Robert Mitchell's golden birthday, and to celebrate, his nieces took a sign depicting a picture of him and the phrase "happy birthday, Bobby" on the Channel Cat Water Taxi. Thorington said that it helped them feel close to their uncle on what was supposed to be his special day. 

"It's hard for them, the girls, they miss their Uncle Bobby a lot," said Thorington, voice cracking. "They decorate his grave quite a bit for every little occasion they can."

It's been almost four years since Mitchell and a passenger were stopped at the Menard's parking lot on North Brady Street by Scott County Deputy Greg Hill for a faulty brake light. According to a report from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, over the course of the stop, which occurred at 1:08 a.m. Oct. 23, 2018, Hill learned that Mitchell had a suspended driver's license and an extraditable warrant out in Indiana. Deputy Meghann Messmore was also on the scene. 

Hill attempted to arrest Mitchell, and a struggle ensued, with Mitchell still in the car. Mitchell drove the car back and forth as the deputy clung to the car. Hill then shot Mitchell who drove off and was found later in the Kwik Shop parking lot near Division Street and Kimberly Road. 

Mitchell died 17 hours later from his wounds. 

Thorington spent as much time as she was allowed with Mitchell in the hospital before he died. Seeing her son in a hospital bed, one bullet wound in his torso and another in his arm, was one of the most horrifying things she'd ever seen. 

"[A Davenport police officer] told me to try not to go in there a lot because if something bad were to happen, I don't want to remember Bobby like that — I want to remember how he was," Thorington said. "I should have followed that a little better, because I have terrible images in my mind of the scene of that night." 

After filing a $5 million wrongful death suit with attorney David O'Brien against Hill and Scott County last year, the Davenport mother has decided to speak out against the defense's methods, which she said stretch the truth — specifically, a video submitted as evidence that she described as a cartoon. 

The defense has submitted an interlocutory appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court, and created a video from dash cam footage of the incident that O'Brien said animated the scene to look different from what really happened. He said the county spent $66,000 on the video. 

If the interlocutory appeal is denied, trial is set for May 2023. The appeal could delay trial proceedings if accepted. 

"I know Patty believed that her fellow citizens in Scott County should know what the county is doing to try to cover up its wrongful conduct, including spending lots of money, more than the average annual salary for its citizens, to create a cartoon that does not accurately depict what happened," O'Brien said. 

Ian Russell is an attorney from the firm Lane & Waterman who, along with The Sotos Law Firm, represents Hill and Scott County. He said he was not in the position to confirm or comment on the cost of the video analysis, and was unable at the time to show the video. 

"The dangerous and fast-moving conditions created by Mr. Mitchell put multiple deputies in danger," Russell said in a statement. "Video evidence of the incident will be presented to the jury in a format that will allow the jury to see the full story in a clear and understandable way."

Mitchell was far from a perfect person, Thorington said. He'd gotten into trouble before and had struggles. But he loved his family fiercely and would help anyone in need, to his own detriment if necessary. 

One of the last holidays Mitchell spent with his nieces was Valentine's Day, Thorington said. He took them to get their faces painted. Thorington has a photo of them together hanging on her wall. He'd gotten some Slim Jim's from the food bank he volunteered at, and gave them to the girls as presents for the holiday.

Now they leave Slim Jims on his grave. 

"He was a really loving, caring person, and he deserved to be in trouble — I would tell him, 'You deserve to go to jail, Bobby. You did wrong. You deserve to go to jail," Thorington said. "But he did not deserve to be murdered."