Body cameras used as key evidence in 2 officer-involved shootings

Body cameras used as key evidence in 2 officer-involved shootings

(Salt Lake police)

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SALT LAKE CITY — On Tuesday, Salt Lake police officer Bron Cruz's fatal shooting of an unarmed 20-year-old man was determined to be legally justified by the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office.

Sim Gill said it was the first time a body camera, which was attached to Cruz's uniform, was used as a key piece of a evidence in an officer-involved shooting investigation.

Turns out, it was actually the second.

On Wednesday, Gill was reminded that a body camera was also presented to his office as part of an investigation that cleared West Jordan police officer Ian Adams of any wrongdoing.

In an incident that received significantly less attention than the fatal shooting of Dillon Taylor in Salt Lake City, Timothy James Peterson, 31, was shot by Adams on July 10 about 12:30 a.m. near 7000 S. Plaza Center Drive near Jordan Landing.

The incident began on July 7 when Peterson showed up at his ex-wife's doorstep. Peterson's ex-wife had a protective order against him and called police. Peterson left before officers arrived.

But later that day, West Jordan investigators received a tip that Peterson had allegedly posted threatening messages on Facebook.

"Peterson made several threats to shoot police officers if they came after him," according to Gill's report. "The caller sent WJPD four pages of Peterson's Facebook statements from his profile. Among Peterson’s Facebook postings were his threats to 'shoot the cops if they come.'"

Peterson also threatened "suicide by cop," the report states, or the act of threatening officers in a way to get them to shoot.

Adams had reviewed the safety bulletins regarding Peterson and was aware of his threats when he began his shift on July 10. While on patrol, he came across two men, one of whom he believed to be Peterson.

Peterson made several threats to shoot police officers if they came after him.

–Sim Gill

When Adams approached the duo's car and asked their names, Peterson yelled, "Mike," got out and ran. He tossed an object as he was running that investigators later discovered was a knife, the report states.

While Adams was chasing him, Peterson turned around and drew what looked like a gun, according to the report. Adams said he shouted "Gun!" as Peterson raised a metal object. Adams fired twice.

No gun was recovered. But Peterson was in possession of a metal bar that had a laser pointer duct taped to it. The metal was bent to give the appearance of a handle, according to the district attorney's report. Peterson claimed the piece of metal he had was straight and it became bent when he fell on it.

Gill's office determined that Adams reasonably thought he was about to be shot and his life was in danger, and that the shooting was justified.

Peterson was charged in August with assault against a police officer. possession of a dangerous weapon and failing to stop at the command of an officer.

West Jordan police said they submitted a copy of Adams' body camera video to the district attorney's office for their investigation. The video, said Sgt. Dan Roberts, wasn't as clear as the video released by Salt Lake police.

Gill said Wednesday that it was grainy but was of "OK quality." Although it was used as part of his office's investigation, he said he "had sufficient other evidence to justify" the shooting.

Gill said video from an officer's body camera has also been used in a homicide investigation.

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