Man asks forgiveness for 2012 shootout with police

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UTAH STATE PRISON — After years of drug addiction and depression, Jamon Val Cranney said he wanted to end his life, but he was afraid to do it himself.

Then in July of 2012, he was pulled over by a Washington City police officer in southern Utah.

"I had done some research on suicide by cop. I kind of felt that if you had a gun, they would kill you, you know. I know it was a reckless decision. Looking back on it, I know it looks like I should have just pulled the trigger on myself. But I’m LDS and I didn’t want to go to hell. I wanted a different way to die. And the situation just came up,” he said.

What soon followed was an exchange of 27 shots between Cranney, the officer and an Iron County sheriff's reserve deputy. Cranney was shot three times but survived. The officers were not injured.

Today, Cranney says he is no longer suicidal or addicted, and wants to return to his family. And he wants the officers involved to know that he is sorry.

"I know I forced them into a horrible, reckless decision, you know. And for that, I’m terribly sorry. And I know there’s consequences,” he said. "I just want to give a deep apology out to everybody, how sorry I am, because I haven’t been able to give it publicly, or personally. I just want to get the help that I need. I just want to show everybody that you can come back from something like this."

In 2014, Cranney, now 40, was sentenced to three years to life at the Utah State Prison. On Tuesday, Cranney went before a member of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole for the first time.

In a recording of the hearing, Cranney said he had broken his back during a tubing accident years earlier and became hooked on painkillers.

"I used that back injury for so many years to keep up the pills,” he said.

When doctors stopped prescribing him pills, he moved on to harder drugs. He said he tried to hide his addiction for many years, but it "got out of control."

On July 20, 2012, after years of drug addiction and estranged from his wife, Cranney was pulled over on a routine traffic stop.

"I was at the end of a 10-year struggle with addiction. I felt like I had failed. … I felt like I failed my family. I felt like I failed my children. I was struggling with depression,” he said.

Cranney gave the officer his license and registration and then drove off. He drove to his house where he said he told his children goodbye, and then resumed driving, knowing that police would be close behind.


Cranney said he fired two shots at officers while driving, then stopped his car, got out and fired four more rounds at the officers who were several hundred yards away. The two pursuing deputies returned fire, critically injuring Cranney.

"That’s what I feel the most remorse for is the recklessness of the whole situation," he said.

Under the current sentencing guidelines, Cranney would be held until 2020, though the parole board is not bound by that. Cranney said he wants to get into a drug treatment program while in prison, and then hopes to be released some day so he can return to his family. It was noted during Tuesday's hearing that a "large contingency" of family members and friends were present to show support.

As for the officers involved in the shootout, "I want forgiveness. I want the officers to someday forgive me. I’ve asked for that forgiveness,” he said.

In 2014, officer Chris Ray, one of the two involved in the shootout with Cranney, told the Spectrum newspaper in St. George that the shootout changed his life and continues to haunt him.

Ray was honored as Officer of the Year for small police agencies in 2013 by the Utah Chiefs of Police Association, but he said he receives medical treatment for nightmares, depression and anxiety.

During sentencing, Judge James Shumate told Cranney, "The fact that you are alive, and the officers are alive, is clearly just by the grace of God."

"I’m really sorry about this," Cranney said Tuesday. "This has been quite the experience. I want to get it taken care of and move on with my life."

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Pat Reavy


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