DA rules South Salt Lake officers justified in shooting with man suffering mental health crisis

DA rules South Salt Lake officers justified in shooting with man suffering mental health crisis

Two South Salt Lake police officers were vindicated when they fatally shot a man in September, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said Friday, but body camera footage his office presented Friday did not clearly captured the shootout.

On the night of September 26, Jebb Muir, 44, called 911 around 11:10 p.m. to report that he had accidentally fired a gun and believed he had fired at his neighbors’ house. During the call, Muir made threats against the police – telling the operator that if a SWAT team was sent he would kill them, according to a letter written by Gill detailing prosecutors’ findings.

Officers had already responded to Muir’s residence earlier that evening when his wife at around 6:50 p.m. requested police assistance as she retrieved the belongings from the house, as she reported that Muir was ” in psychosis” and angry, says Gill’s letter.

Muir was apparently not home at the time, but three officers responded, waiting outside while his wife removed her belongings. At one point, Muir stopped on his bike home, but the woman was able to collect her belongings “without incident” and officers left around 7:30 p.m., the letter said.

The police shoot

When Muir called police later that night to report the accidental shooting, he asked officers who had responded earlier and said he would comply.

When officers arrived in the area near 450 East Stephie Marie Lane in South Salt Lake, one of them called Muir and asked him to come out, but Muir refused, Gill’s letter says.

As police watched the home, a neighbor north of Muir’s home called 911 to report a man was in his driveway with a gun and asked him “if he wanted to die.” sergeant. Clayton Anderson then saw a man fitting that description riding his bike north on 400 East, according to the letter.

As Anderson turned his patrol car onto Robert Avenue, he saw the same man get off his bike, on the side of the road with what appeared to be a gun, he said in a written statement. He told Officer Zayne Ruth to get into the front passenger seat of the patrol car, handed Ruth his loaded rifle, and then the two drove to intercept the man.

As Anderson stopped the car near the man, later confirmed to be Muir, he appeared to be hunched over. Anderson told Ruth to get out and walk around the vehicle. When Ruth did, Ruth shouted commands of “Hands, hands, hands!” as Anderson also got out of the car and drew his handgun, the letter says.

Body camera footage released at a press conference on Friday showed an almost immediate barrage of gunfire, which the documents say came from Muir and Ruth’s guns. Anderson said in a statement that he “felt hit in the side of the head with a projectile,” when Muir fired his gun at Anderson.

Anderson fell to the ground to avoid being hit again. When he could see Muir’s “prone figure”, he fired a shot.

Muir was later pronounced dead at the scene and Anderson was grazed by a bullet to the side of the head. No one else was injured.

Body camera footage

Body camera footage was shown Friday by Ruth and two other responding officers, but none was shown from Anderson’s perspective.

“There are other cameras carried by other officers, but that was not relevant to the shot analysis we have,” Gill said Friday. “This (sequence shown) is as good as it gets…As they open their door, Officer Ruth stands up. As soon as he stands up, the arms exchange begins and they are already firing.

Gill said he could not say for sure who fired first, but said the evidence showed an “almost simultaneous” exchange of gunfire. His letter says evidence recovered from the scene indicates that Muir fired three rounds with a shotgun, Ruth fired 12 rounds with a rifle, and Anderson fired one round with his handgun.

A knife, vodka bottle, pistol, scope and magazines, along with boxes of ammunition, were also recovered from Muir’s backpack, documents show. The Utah medical examiner’s office found Muir had a blood alcohol level of .129, more than double the legal limit, according to Gill’s letter.

Gill’s office spoke with Muir’s family on Friday morning, who told them they were unable to access mental health care for Muir when they noticed he was struggling, Gill said. . They also told Gill they hoped law enforcement would get enhanced training for dealing with people with mental health crises.

“It’s a tragedy for all of us – I don’t like those kinds of scenarios, it’s not a victory for anyone,” Gill said. “It would be a sad comment if we didn’t take the time to acknowledge that we are not funding our mental health services in our community which is in crisis, so that families like theirs can access help and treatment. what they need. ”

Gill’s office will not pursue criminal charges against the officers, and he said the officers’ use of deadly force supports that they reasonably believe their lives are in danger. In a December statement, the South Salt Lake Civilian Review Board also ruled that the officers’ use of force was justified.

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