SALT LAKE CITY — Three teens accused of hitting and killing West Valley police officer Cody Brotherson have each been charged in juvenile court with murder.
On Friday, previously sealed charging documents filed in 3rd District Juvenile Court were released to the public. The release came a day after 3rd District Juvenile Judge Kim Hornak sided with a coalition of journalists that fought to have the documents unsealed.
The three boys — ages 14, 15 and 15 — are accused of fleeing from West Valley police in a car they had just stolen on Nov. 6 and then hitting and killing Brotherson as he attempted to lay out a tire spike strip near the intersection of 4100 South and 2200 West.
All three boys are charged with murder with gang enhancements, a first-degree felony; car theft with gang enhancements, a first-degree felony; and failing to stop at the command of a law enforcer, a class A misdemeanor.
Two of the boys, brothers ages 14 and 15, each face an additional charge of possession of burglary tools, a class B misdemeanor. The boys had shaved spoons, according to the charges.
The 14-year-old brother and the other 15-year-old are also charged with obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony. The 15-year-old brother was charged with possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor, a class B misdemeanor, for having brass knuckles, the charges state.
Police and prosecutors have released little information about the incident that led to Brotherson's death. But according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by the Deseret News, a West Valley police officer in an unmarked patrol car spotted a silver BMW with a Florida license plate in the middle of the intersection of 4100 South and Redwood Road early on the morning of Nov. 6. The vehicle appeared to be disabled.
When the officer approached and turned on his hazard lights, he saw six people walk away from the car and into the nearby Boulder Pines apartment complex, 4040 S. 1535 West. The officer followed and "observed several teenage juveniles near a Honda Accord," the affidavit states. The Accord's headlights came on and it drove out of the complex. The officer followed.
Another officer who had arrived at the disabled BMW was notified that the Accord was headed his way. The officer "was able to deploy spikes as the car passed him going west" on 4100 South, according to the warrant.
The officer in the unmarked car activated his emergency lights and a second officer in a marked West Valley police patrol car also joined the pursuit.
As they approached the intersection of 4100 South and 2200 West, the officer in the unmarked car could see Brotherson, 25, attempting to deploy tire spikes.
"He observed the Honda Accord swerve toward the officer and strike him with the vehicle," the warrant states.
The charging documents do not indicate which of the three boys was driving the car that hit Brotherson or whether the car swerved toward the officer intentionally. When the warrant was first written in November, police were looking for evidence to help them determine who had been driving.
Salt Lake County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeff Hall declined Friday to answer either of those questions. Hall also declined to say whether prosecutors plan to seek to have the boys certified as adults.
KSL has opted not to name the boys at this time.
When police attempted to interview the trio, two of them initially gave detectives false stories and the third refused to talk, the warrant states. Two of the boys initially claimed that a fourth person had given them a ride home in the Accord and that they had all been in the back seat.
The 14-year-old "eventually changed his story. He indicated the three had gotten into the Honda Accord and used a spoon to start the car," police wrote. That boy claimed that the driver was the 15-year-old friend of him and his brother.
"(He) confirmed they fled from the police and the car was spiked during the pursuit. (He) said he told (the friend) to stop but he would not. (He) said he thought they hit a wall, not the officer," according to the affidavit.
That 15-year-old friend eventually admitted that the story about a fourth person driving was false, but he declined to say who was driving, the warrant states.
The other brother, who had turned 15 a little more than 24 hours earlier, "invoked his right to counsel and refused to speak with investigators."
The search warrant was served to take photographs of each of the boys over a 10-day period to monitor the types of bruises that could occur. Investigators hoped "to use any injury/bruising information to aid in determining" where each boy had been sitting in the car when it hit Brotherson.
Neither police nor prosecutors have said if they have subsequently determined where each of the three had been seated.
- The 14-year-old brother has been referred to juvenile court six times for a total of five felony and seven misdemeanor offenses, including aggravated assault on Oct. 25, according to juvenile court records.
In another incident, he was charged with receiving more than $5,000 worth of stolen property, possession of burglary tools and possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor. That crime was allegedly committed on Nov. 4, two days before Brotherson was hit, according to juvenile court records.
- His 15-year-old brother has been referred to juvenile court three times on four felony and five misdemeanor charges. He is also accused of an incident on Nov. 4 — his birthday — in which he was charged with receiving more than $5,000 in stolen property and aggravated assault, according to court records.
- The 15-year-old friend has been referred to juvenile court three times, according to state court records, for four felonies and three misdemeanors or infractions. He was also charged with aggravated assault for an incident on Nov. 4. He was charged in another incident with fighting and assault after a January incident that was investigated by Granite School District police, according to court records.
All juvenile court histories include the most recent charges.
The brothers are enrolled at Eisenhower Junior High and the other boy is a student at Granger High School.