SALT LAKE CITY — In the days and weeks leading up to Lonnie Marcel Bowen being shot and killed by police, he exhibited odd behavior, fueled by either drug use or mental illness, or both, and believed that police were out to get him, according to newly released police reports.
On Tuesday, Bowen, 41, of Salt Lake City, was shot by a Unified police officer following a 911 call from a man threatening to stab a woman and a police chase.
The incident began about 3 a.m. when emergency dispatchers received a call from an "agitated" man who said, “Tell your officers to back off, or I will shove this knife through her throat," said Unified Police Lt. Brian Lohrke.
Police began looking for a pickup truck, which was spotted an hour later by West Valley police.
The ensuing chase ended near the intersection of 2700 South and 8400 West about 4:15 a.m. after West Valley police successfully spiked the tires on the truck, Lohrke said. A Unified police officer approached the vehicle. When he got there, he saw something that prompted him to fire at least one shot, but investigators have not elaborated on what that was.
A woman who was also in the truck, possibly being held hostage, suffered minor injuries and was treated at a hospital. Those undisclosed injuries, Lohrke said, happened before the shooting and were inflicted by Bowen.
According to police reports obtained by KSL through a public records request, that incident came on the heels of a very similar incident just five days earlier.
On April 12, a woman claimed that Bowen "forced her to drive him around throughout the night … while at one point holding her with his arm around her neck while placing a screwdriver to her throat and threatening to kill her if she tried to get away or call police," according to a Salt Lake City police report.
The woman told police that Bowen made her drive from Magna to LDS Hospital twice, allegedly because he "needed meds," the report states.
"(The woman) stated Lonnie became increasingly paranoid, violent and threatening to her during the drive and upon arrival, refused to go inside," according to the report.
When officers found the truck, the woman told them that "she believes Lonnie abuses narcotics but has never actually seen him abuse anything. (She) stated Lonnie is also bipolar but does not take required medications. (She) stated Lonnie seemed fine while communicating online but ever since arriving in Utah, he has been different. Paranoid, delusional, and abusive," the police report states.
She also stated that during their ride, Bowen accused the woman of "working for the police and set him up to have the police kill him," according to the report. "(She) stated Lonnie then picked up a can of spray paint and a lighter and threatened to kill her by lighting her on fire."
When police arrived at the parking lot where the pickup was stopped, officers ordered Bowen out at gunpoint. He was compliant and did not resist, according to the report.
"Lonnie stated he is bipolar and abuses methamphetamine," the report states. "Lonnie admitted he believed (the woman) was trying to get him in trouble with the police and have them 'gun him down' because of everything she was wrapped up in and his wanting to leave her. Lonnie ultimately admitted his own substance abuse with methamphetamine stating he last used a couple of days ago. Lonnie agreed his meth use could be causing paranoia thus contributing to his belief (the woman) is trying to have the police kill him."
When officers talked to the woman, they noted in their report that, "although speaking rapidly at points and going off subject, (she) did not appear intoxicated or under the influence of any substance while speaking with her. (The woman) did also state she suffers from bipolar disorder."
Although some evidence was collected, Salt Lake police on Thursday said that Bowen and the woman gave contradicting stories about what had happened, and there wasn't enough physical evidence to confirm either story. Because of that, Bowen was not arrested. Police transported him back to the homeless shelter. A victim advocate was called for the woman and she was taken to an emergency shelter, according to police.
Salt Lake police declined to say Thursday whether it was the same woman who was in the truck with Bowen on Tuesday.
Salt Lake officers also came in contact with Bowen on March 23.
In that incident, a woman called police to report Bowen "was having a mental breakdown and stabbing things with a screwdriver inside her car," according to a police report.
Officers arrived and took Bowen into custody without incident.
"He said he believes people are after him and said he believed someone was still in the vehicle trying to get at him. The vehicle was checked and no one else was found. Lonnie stated he just got out of the psych ward at McKay Dee hospital a few days ago. He said he was prescribed new medications but had not started taking them yet," the report states.
Police decided to "pink slip" Bowen at that time, or send him to University Neuropsychiatric Institute "for an involuntary commitment for a psychiatric exam. Lonnie was very cooperative throughout the whole process and understood that he needed help," according to the report.
On March 18, police were called to deal with Bowen on another incident. In that case, he was standing in front of a hotel, 1729 N. Beck St., and was asked to leave because he was making guests uncomfortable, according to the report. An officer took Bowen back to the homeless shelter, the report states.
On Sunday, just two days before he was shot, Bowen posted several videos on Facebook saying police were out to kill him.
On his Facebook page, which was created just a couple of weeks ago, the final posts on the page are four livestream videos all recorded between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Sunday. In the recordings, Bowen is talking while driving, and suggests that he is going to be killed by either Salt Lake police or the Ogden Metro Strike Force.
"Salt Lake PD are killers. And they are responsible for anything that happens to me death-wise. They want to kill me,” he said. "They want me dead, for whatever reason, they want me dead."
Bowen contends the police will make his death look like criminal activity was involved.
"I'm putting this video out there so the world knows who is responsible for my death," he continued. "I know they're gunning for me. I know they waiting for me."
Bowen had a lengthy criminal history, according to court records, including a conviction for attempted murder in 1996, and he spent time in the Utah State Prison. He was most recently released from prison in January.