TAZER GUY BREAKS CAR WINDOW
This is the Trooper’s narrative of what happened… 1) The first scene is me communicating with dispatch that I have located an armed robbery suspect which had been put out over the computer screen but not over the radio. The suspect was the driver and had robbed a woman on the east side of Salt Lake with a pistol, taking her purse. The vehicle is in the right hand lane at the start of the video. While we sit at the intersection I call on the DUI Squad talk about channel to other members of the squad to provide back up. 2) The vehicle goes to make a turn westbound off of State St. at about 6300 south and I have to stop him there. We initiate a high risk stop. The suspect will not comply with verbal commands during the whole of the stop, countering our commands with questions about what he' d done to be stopped, stating he'd done nothing wrong, and that he'd rather not. 3) At numerous times during the stop the suspect drops his hands and is fidgeting with something in the car. I felt that he was using the questions as a stalling tactic to ready himself to use his pistol. 4) Just before exiting the vehicle he drops his hands for an extended period of time and then leans over to kiss his girlfriend good bye. She is a juvenile. I thought that this gesture was also a solid indication that he intended to make use of the pistol when he exited. You can hear me say, "This is it, guys." right as he gets out. 5) He exits the vehicle and continues to maintain he did nothing wrong. While he is making this assertion he does something I found to be very strange at the time; he appears to point back into the vehicle with both hands, dropping them to shoulder height to do so. He continues this, dropping his right hand to very near the opening of his shirt while pointing into the car with his left. His right hand is hovering just over a loaded pistol which is in a shoulder holster under his left armpit when you hear me say to my backup Troopers, "Off gun." The whole time he is dropping his hands toward the concealed weapon he is refusing to comply with commands given by myself. He turns to the side to comply when I come around my vehicle but due to his history, however brief it may be, of not complying with my commands, and the fact that he used a gun in the robbery I was going to take no chances. I deployed the X 26 Taser into his chest and sides and he falls back into his car, breaking out hte rear window with his head. He cannot fall to the ground because of the taser and so I pull him off the car. When he is finally on the ground he refuses to comply with my commands and begins to reach under himself into his shirt before I am forced to give him another short burst and he begins to feign unconsciousness. I go back on gun to help take the passenger into custody after the suspect is handcuffed by Sgt. Jeff Plank. The gun was located after Sgt. Plank searched him. It was in a shoulder holster under his left armpit, which was unfastened for quick removal of the weapon. After the juvenile female accomplice is in custody you can hear me securing the gun by downloading it and racking the slide back multiple times.
FIRES TRAP TRUCKER 2007
A TRUCKER IS LUCKY TO BE ALIVE AFTER NEARING BEING BURNED ALIVE INSIDE HIS SEMI IN UTAH. FRED GONZALES WAS DRIVING SOUTH ON I-15 FROM SALT LAKE CITY WHEN HIS TRUCK HIT THE DENSE SMOKE AND THEN THE FLAMES FROM THE MILFORD FLAT WILDFIRES. GONZALES WAS HAULING A FULL LOAD UPHILL WHEN THE FLAMES SHOT ACROSS THE HIGHWAY AT HIS TRUCK. HIS ONLY OPTION WAS TO GUN THE ENGINE UP THE HILL UNTIL HE WAS ON FLATTER GROUND SO HE COULD EVACUATE. SOMEHOW THE ENGINE MADE IT AND GONZALES RAN FOR HIS LIFE AWAY FROM THE FIRE. HE SAW A MINIVAN ALSO COME OUT OF THE BLAZE AND IMMEDIATELY JUMPED IN IT AND OFFERED TO DRIVE THEMAN, WOMAN AND TWO CHILDREN TO SAFETY FOR ALL OF THEM. WE HAVE SOME DASHCAM OF THE GENERAL BURNING AREA AND WE DO SEE THE BURNING SEMI TRUCK. BUT NONE OF THE ACTION SHOTS DESCRIBED ABOVE ARE ON THIS DASHCAM VIDEO.
DRIVER’S DON’T TASE ME BRO ROADSTOP 2007
The decision by 28-year old telephone company employee Jared Massey to post a video of himself being shot with a Taser by a Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) trooper on the Internet was motivated by his desire to have them act more expeditiously on his 2-month-old request to investigate the incident. Full story published in the Deseret Morning News; additional story posted by the Salt Lake Tribune. "There's been no response, no action, no notifying us 'Hey, we're looking at this,"' Massey said. "To us it seems like they're stonewalling it, trying to brush it under the rug so that nothing would happen. That's why we decided to take it to YouTube," Massey further explained about his decision to post the edited 10-minute video clip captured by UHP trooper John Gardner's dashboard camera that documented Massey's arrest on the Internet. "We thought it was kind of our civic duty to do this." Massey said he and his wife were initially told by the secretary at the Vernal UHP office that they couldn't file a complaint against Gardner but eventually met with the trooper's supervisor just days after the incident. The couple has not yet returned the formal complaint form they were given. The Masseys, with the help of an attorney, also made a formal request for a copy of the video from Gardner's car, an audio copy of the trooper's radio traffic with dispatchers, and copies of any paperwork Gardner completed to document the incident. So far, the couple said they have only received the video — which they had to have unscrambled by one of his co-workers to view — and the dispatch tape. The couple got a copy of Gardner's probable cause statement, which makes no mention of his use of a Taser, when they went to court. They said they have yet to receive the trooper's incident report. "They still haven't given us everything we've requested," Massey said. In response, UHP spokesman Cameron Roden said Gardner did document his use of the Taser in his incident report. "It's definitely in the report," Roden said. "In fact we have a separate Taser deployment form which is part of our form and he has filled it out." Roden added that the Masseys should have received a copy "as part of discovery." The highway patrol will not release the trooper's report on the incident to the public or the media though until an internal investigation is completed. Massey was pulled over September 14th by Gardner on U.S. Hwy 40 outside Vernal on suspicion of speeding in a construction zone. During the emotionally charged encounter, Massey can be heard refusing to sign the speeding citation and arguing with Gardner about whether he was actually speeding.
TEENS’ CHASE A CRASHING FAILURE 2007
Two Utah teenagers put hundreds of motorists in danger Friday. The drivers led highway patrol officers on a 200 hundred mile high speed chase from Cedar City to Nephi before the suspects finally lost control. The two male minors were driving a green Ford F-150. During the pursuit these two boys reached speeds up to 97 mph. Police say luckily no one else was injured during the chase. Troopers say the suspects are two 16-year-old boys from a Toquerville group home who stole the truck and started heading north on I-15. In the dash cam video, you can see the driver dodges several sets of spikes, and he's very aware of the police officers on his tail. Sgt. Hoby Metz with the Utah Highway Patrol says, "They were flipping the bird at us, they were throwing things out of their vehicle, they were making all kinds of gestures. It was obvious to me that they had no regard for the safety of the public at that point." Metz had made up his mind to perform a pit maneuver on the truck and started to take action. But since the driver was paying more attention to the trooper than the road in front of him, he lost control, spun out, and crashed. The teens were arrested without further problems. Troopers say the teens did not show signs that they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They were taken to a juvenile detention facility in Provo. The two teens will face charges of evading arrest, and stealing a vehicle.
COP CRIES WOLF, VIDEO SHOWS OTHERWISE 2007
A police shooting raises serious questions about deadly force. Three Salt Lake County Sheriff's deputies fired more than a dozen shots, injuring a car-theft suspect. The district attorney's office has ruled two of the deputies weren't justified in using deadly force. We obtained the reports from this investigation and got the dramatic video you'll only see on Eyewitness News. The shooting happened on January 16 after a traffic stop. The dash camera was rolling in one of the deputy's cars. It captured the events that unfolded. Two patrol cars are on the tail of a Dodge Durango. The two people inside are suspects in a car theft. So when deputies pull the vehicle over at 4500 South and 1300 East, they communicate caution. One deputy is heard saying, "High risk stop." You can hear a deputy order commands to the driver. "Driver, throw the keys out of the vehicle." He continues, "Get out of the vehicle." It's out of camera range, but the driver gets out of his vehicle with his hands up. "Keep your hands in the air. Turn around," a deputy said. A deputy yells to watch the passenger, who suddenly jumps into the driver's seat. You can see Deputy David Jensen run to the suspects' vehicle. The first three shots are from another deputy, who was aiming for the Durango's tires. The suspect, Joseph Blair, is hit once in the arm as he speeds away. Not long after that, police found him passed out behind a house, miles away in Salt Lake City. After the shooting, Deputy Jensen -- whose bullet hit Blair -- said the suspects' vehicle hit him. A third deputy, Alan Morley, shot at the suspect's windshield several times. He said he fired out of fear for his and Jensen's safety. But the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office found this video didn't support the deputies' stories. Their report says, "The suspects' vehicle never moved before the first shots were fired, and it never veered toward or hit Deputy Jensen." But the investigation also found criminal charges against the officers would be tough to prove in court. The D.A. has decided not to pursue it. The Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office and the D.A.'s office declined to comment. The sheriff's office is still doing an internal investigation that will determine if any policies were violated. The deputies who fired their weapons are back on duty. The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office has ruled two sheriff's deputies were not justified in using deadly force when they shot and wounded a theft suspect in January. But Distict Attorney Lohra Miller has declined to file charges. According to a D.A. investigative report, there is not a "reasonable likelihood" that Miller's office would persuade a jury to convict the officers of assault. The report concluded that deputies David Jensen and Alan J. Morley were not justified in shooting at Joseph Blair, who suffered a gunshot wound to his arm, on Jan. 16. Jensen and Morley gave accounts of the incident that were not supported by evidence, the report states. Investigators concluded a third deputy, Heath Lowry, who also fired his weapon, did not use deadly force because he was shooting only at a vehicle's back tire. All three deputies were placed on administrative leave following the shooting and have since returned to duty, said Lt. Paul Jaroscak, a sheriff's spokesman. The sheriff's office on Wednesday, however, declined to discuss whether any of the deputies have been disciplined. On Jan. 16, deputies pulled over a Dodge Durango carrying Joseph Blair and another man, who was driving near the intersection of 4500 South and State Street. The men were suspected of attempting to steal a car, according to the sheriff's office. When the driver got out of the SUV, as instructed by deputies, Blair jumped into the driver's seat and started the engine, according to accounts from deputies. Lowry fired the first three shots from behind the Durango. Lowry then fired one round from the front of the SUV before Jensen shot from the side of the SUV, striking Blair, according to investigators. Lowry fired a total of three shots, and Morley fired six shots, according to the D.A.'s report. It was unclear how many times Jensen shot. Jensen and other deputies claimed that Blair drove the SUV toward Jensen, causing Jensen to shoot, out of fear for his life. But investigators reviewing dashboard footage of the shooting concluded that Jensen shot before the SUV began moving, according to the D.A.'s report. Jensen initially told another deputy that the SUV struck him, and he filled out paperwork at St. Mark's Hospital indicating he suffered minor injuries from the collision. But investigators said there was no evidence the SUV ever hit him, according to the report. According to the D.A.'s report, Jensen, on his lawyer's advice, declined to be interviewed by police or D.A. investigators. Morley told investigators that he shot at Blair because the SUV was headed toward him and he feared for his life. But investigators said the vehicle was not moving in Morley's direction when he began firing. Lowry told investigators that he shot at Blair because the SUV was heading toward Jensen. But investigators concluded he was shooting to disable the vehicle rather than hit Blair. Four other deputies on the scene did not fire their guns, investigators said. One of those deputies, Rodney Moulder, told investigators that he was next to Jensen when Jensen began firing and did not believe Jensen was in danger, according to the D.A. report. Moulder, in fact, asked Jensen, "Why are we shooting, why are we shooting?" according to the report's summary of Moulder's interview with investigators. A deputy standing next to Lowry during the shooting said he also saw no reason for deputies to shoot at Blair "because there was not a threat that he could identify," according to the D.A.'s report. Miller's decision not to pursue charges against the deputies in the Jan. 16 shooting is reminiscent of her first controversial decision as district attorney. In January, shortly after taking office, Miller rankled her predecessor, David Yocom, by dropping a felony assault charge against a Granite School District police officer who shot and wounded an unarmed man during a foot chase in October 2004. In that case, Miller said she did not have enough evidence to prove the officer did not act in self-defense. But Yocom, noting the case against Lt. Todd Rasmussen had survived a preliminary hearing and was headed to trial, said a jury should have made that decision. Yocom, a Democrat, accused Miller, a Republican, of playing politics, given that her candidacy was supported by police organizations. Miller denied the charge. D.A. spokesman Robert Stott declined to comment on the Jan. 16 shooting because no charges were filed but said prosecutors must consider when officers are on the job when they decide whether to take a case to trial. "We can't say that the officer was justified under the law in using deadly force," Stott said. "On the other hand, we don't think we could win in a trial because we think the jury maybe would be swayed by the officer's circumstances."