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West Jordan police release body camera video of July shooting

(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

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WEST JORDAN — West Jordan police officer Ian Adams was aware that Timothy James Peterson had threatened to harm officers.

When he came face-to-face with Peterson on the night of July 10, Peterson did not comply with Adams' commands, took off running, and made threatening motions as if he were going to pull a weapon out of his waistband, said West Jordan Police Chief Doug Diamond.

Adams fired 10 times in just three seconds while running, hitting Peterson twice in the leg and buttocks.

The shooting was captured on the body camera Adams was wearing.

On Friday, Diamond showed the video for the first time to the media, playing it both in real time and slow motion to point out different aspects of what happened that night.

And while Diamond believes the video played "a significant role" in the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office determination that the shooting was legally justified, it was just part of the evidence. "The body cameras don't tell the whole story, they just tell one specific viewpoint," he said.

At the time of the shooting, Peterson, 31, had already been arrested nine times, had three current warrants out for his arrest, and was a suspect in another case. He had also made several posts on his Facebook page which stated in part, "I'm going to shoot the cops if they come, honest truth ill (sic) pay for a lie detector test right now I swear … i will."

Peterson, who was apparently having problems getting over his divorce, made several other posts stating that he was convinced he was going to be shot by police. After the shooting, Diamond said investigators further learned that Peterson seemed to purposely pick the place and time that officers would confront him because he didn't want others to get hurt.

Surveillance video from a Wal-Mart, shown at Friday's press conference, shows Peterson walking out of the store with a metal object shaped to look like the handle of a gun sticking out of his pocket, as if he wanted someone to see it. When police interviewed the man Peterson was with the night of the shooting, he told officers that Peterson had made several statements that he was "going to do a 'suicide by cop,'" Diamond said.

But even with that information, Diamond said officers have to take all threats as real.

"We cannot wait until someone actually shoots us or it will be too late," he said.

Before he started his shift that night, Adams reviewed the safety bulletin given to all officers with Peterson's photo and the caption: "threatened to kill cops."

It shook (Officer Ian Adams) up. When you're in a life-threatening situation, it is a critical, critical time. It kind of messes with your mind a little bit.

–West Jordan Police Chief Doug Diamond

Adams found a suspicious vehicle in a darkened and otherwise empty parking lot in the Jordan Landing area, 7037 S. Plaza Center Drive, with two people inside. Almost immediately he recognize one of them as Peterson.

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.

As Adams chased Peterson, his body camera video showed Peterson ignoring Adams' commands even though the officer's gun was pointed at him, and Peterson appears to continue to reach into his waistband while looking behind him.

"Shots fired, shots fired," Adams can be heard telling dispatchers.

"Show me your hands," he orders Peterson, who is now face down on the ground.

"I got one suspect down, start medical," Adams said. "The suspect down is Tim Peterson."

After backup officers arrive and take control of the situation, the body camera video continues to roll as Adams walks up to Peterson who is being treated by paramedics. He can be heard moaning as emergency crews roll him over to treat his injury, revealing a small pool of blood.

Adams then walks around the parking lot, apparently trying to clam down and collect himself.

"It shook him up. When you're in a life-threatening situation, it is a critical, critical time. It kind of messes with your mind a little bit," Diamond said.

Recovered at the scene were two knives, including a large butcher knife, and a piece of folded metal with a laser pointer duct taped to it that had the appearance of a gun.

After several weeks in the hospital, 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, and was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail.

The shooting was ruled justified by the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office. Adams was also cleared in an internal investigation. After receiving a psychological evaluation, Adams was cleared to go back to work on July 28.

The play-by-play description of the event marked the second time this week that authorities used body camera video to explain a shooting scenario from a first person perspective. On Tuesday, District Attorney Sim Gill showed the body camera video from Salt Lake police officer Bron Cruz that was used to clear him in the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Dillon Taylor.

West Jordan police currently have 16 body cameras issued to certain patrol officers. The department has 110 sworn officers. Diamond said he has budgeted $25,000 to purchase more cameras for 2015. His hope is that all patrol officers will soon be wearing them.

Video Contributor: Nicole Vowell


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