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Investigators say Ogden officer not legally justified in shooting man

By Jasen Lee | Posted - Feb 22nd, 2013 @ 9:17pm

OGDEN — A pair of investigations into a shooting involving a veteran police officer and a man accused of leading authorities on a high-speed chase has determined that the officer's use of deadly force was not legally justified.

Weber County Attorney Dee Smith said two independent probes of the incident in which Ogden police officer Justin Kaufman shot and wounded Clifford Dean Owens, 51, concluded that Kaufman was not justified in firing his weapon. One investigation was conducted by the Weber County Attorney’s Office, with the second by the Ogden Police Shooting Review panel.

The incident occurred on Dec. 18 after Ogden police had responded to domestic violence report near The Gate at Canyon Ridge apartments at 1455 Valley Drive.

Police said that when Kaufman approached Owens sitting in a vehicle, Owens drove away, sideswiping Kaufman's patrol vehicle, a police affidavit states. Kaufman followed him to a dead-end parking area and boxed Owens in with his police car and a carport wall.

Both investigations have concluded that officer Justin Kaufman was not justified in using deadly force at the time that he did so.

–Weber County Attorney Dee Smith

"Owens wedged his vehicle in between the wall and patrol (car), ramming each and forced his way through, drawing fire from Kaufman," the affidavit states.

Kaufman fired his weapon several times, striking Owens in the left hand and his left shoulder. As Owens fled, the pursuit reached speeds in excess 100 mph, leading police to terminate the chase due to safety concerns. The tires of Owens' vehicle were eventually spiked, which led him to continue his escape attempt on rims by the time the pursuit reached Logan.

Owens was taken into custody when the vehicle became stuck in the driveway of a vacant home in Logan and officers threatened to release a police K-9.

Owen was charged with two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of failing to respond to an officer's signal to stop, all third-degree felonies.

"Both investigations have concluded that officer Justin Kaufman was not justified in using deadly force at the time that he did so," Smith said in a prepared statement.

The county attorney did not say what, if any, action was taken against Kaufman or whether he will face any criminal charges. Smith did not return phone calls Friday.

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