Officer-involved shooting was justified, police chief believes

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WEST VALLEY CITY — Police Chief Lee Russo said he believes the officer who shot and injured a 24-year-old man who was brandishing a knife Sunday took the appropriate action.

About 7:30 p.m., the officer happened to encounter the man wandering in the street on 3200 West, just north of 3500 South.

The officer requested backup when he realized the man was armed after a "brief encounter," Russo said during a news conference Monday afternoon.

Witnesses verified that the man and officer talked before the man began to walk away. He then turned around, "making an aggressive move toward the officer" with what police determined was a fixed-blade knife "rather large in size," Russo said.


The man got within 5 to 10 feet of the officer before the officer fired his gun, hitting the man three times.

"In the information that I have reviewed to this point, we do preliminarily believe that the officer's actions were reasonable and justifiable. But certainly that is under review, and the district attorney has the ultimate and final review and say in such matters," Russo said.

Witnesses also said the man continued to be uncooperative after backup officers arrived.

“For the safety of the officers and medical personnel, a police K-9 was used to separate the male from the knife, and he was taken into custody,” West Valley Deputy Chief Mike Powell said in a statement Monday.

Police were able to identify the man through fingerprints. Police do not yet know if the man was intoxicated.

In the information that I have reviewed to this point, we do preliminarily believe that the officer's actions were reasonable and justifiable.

–Chief Lee Russo, WVCPD

The man was in critical but stable condition as of Monday afternoon, Russo said. He name had not been released.

West Valley City police officers have been adequately trained to respond to such situations, Russo said.

“I can tell you, from my perspective last night, and I would like to assure to the public today, I believe that our officers acted reasonably. I believe that our department responded to this promptly and is thoroughly investigating,” Russo said.

The officer involved in the shooting was on administrative leave Monday morning.

"Once we make a determination that the officer acted reasonably, our goal is to get that officer back onto duty as quickly as possible,” Russo said.

The chief said he admired the response of his officers.

"I was impressed by the way that the officers who were on scene had organized, contained the scene, were isolating witnesses, making sure that evidence was preserved and getting the resources into place," he said.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office is investigating the shooting.



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