Jury Clears Police in Shooting of Suicidal Man

Jury Clears Police in Shooting of Suicidal Man

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MOUNT PLEASANT, Utah (AP) -- Two police officers who mistook a knife for a handgun were cleared by a federal jury in the fatal shooting of a suicidal man.

After five hours of deliberations, jurors Thursday rejected claims that Pleasant Grove Officer John Clayton and Orem Sgt. Harold Peterson violated David Walker's constitutional rights when they shot him.

In 1998, four days after Christmas, Clayton and Peterson chased Walker to his parents' home after his sister said he stole her car and was suicidal.

When Walker, 25, got out of the car in his parents' Mount Pleasant driveway, the officers believed he had a gun. Peterson shot Walker in the hip, and Clayton shot him in the chest and back.

Peterson's attorney, Andrew Morse, said Walker was in a "shooter's stance" and holding an object that the officer believed was a gun. It turned out to be a knife.

Walker's family sued the officers for unspecified damages in a wrongful-death lawsuit. The trial began Oct. 9 in federal court in Salt Lake City.

Peterson is retired, while Clayton still works for the Pleasant Grove department.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune,

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

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