Officer Who Shot Jail Escapee is Back on the Beat

Officer Who Shot Jail Escapee is Back on the Beat

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MANILA, Utah (AP) -- The Wyoming officer who shot an escaped killer from Utah is back on the beat after his bosses said his actions were justified.

Cpl. Mike Picerno of the Sweetwater County sheriff's office was placed on paid leave after shooting Danny Gallegos at the end of a high-speed chase Sept. 29.

"Two armed, desperate killers loose in darkness in a residential area -- had Corporal Picerno and the others not taken the swift, effective action they did, that's exactly what we would have had," Sheriff Rich Haskell said Tuesday.

Gallegos, 49, and Juan Diaz-Arevalo, 27, escaped here from the Daggett County jail, along the Wyoming border, on Sept. 23. They are convicted killers who were housed at the jail because there was no room at Utah prisons.

After six days on the run, they tied up a 79-year-old man inside his trailer and stole his sport utility vehicle and three guns. Police spotted the Ford Explorer and placed spikes in the road to stop it.

Gallegos was shot when he refused to drop a rifle, the sheriff's office said. He was listed in fair condition at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City Tuesday.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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