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Investigation reveals new info in Provo police shooting



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PROVO -- Two Provo police officers who shot and killed a man inside of a Smith's grocery store have been cleared of any wrongdoing -- but the investigation found the man's gun never posed any danger to the officers.

The man who was killed had a handgun and was pointing it at the officers, despite their commands to get him to drop it. While the man's gun was real, the firing pin had been removed, and it would never have fired.

The shooting happened on a busy Saturday night in May of this year at the Smith's on Freedom Boulevard in Provo. The store was crowded and many customers were frightened to hear several gunshots.


After the fact, it was found that the suspect's gun had slugs glued into the cylinders to make it appear the gun was loaded, while the gun's firing pin was inoperable.

According to the final report on the incident, store employees confronted Ronald Ethington after finding he was shoplifting 12 cans of beer. He attempted to leave, but an employee put him in a headlock and took him to an office.

Inside the bag with the beer the store employees saw a gun's handle and began yelling, "He has a gun." That's when police were called, and officers Chris Chambers and Troy Cook were dispatched to the store.

In a six-page letter detailing the situation, the investigation concluded, "Notwithstanding multiple and repeated commands to drop the gun, Mr. Ethington squared off and raised his gun toward the uniformed officers. After the officers initially shot him and after continued commands to drop the gun, Mr. Ethington attempted at least three more times to raise the gun toward the officers."

After the fact, it was found that Ethington's .357 handgun had slugs glued into the cylinders to make it appear the gun was loaded, while the gun's firing pin was inoperable.

The autopsy found Ethington had a .08 blood alcohol level.

Provo police told KSL Tuesday afternoon the two officers were cleared through an internal investigation some time ago and have been back on the job for several weeks.

E-mail: spenrod@ksl.com

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Sam Penrod

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