OGDEN — A Weber County man was shot 11 times after police were called to his apartment last May. He survived, and is now asking for police to change their tactics.
About a couple of dozen protesters gathered outside the Weber County Attorney’s Office in Ogden Friday, demanding that County Attorney Chris Allred reconsider his ruling that the police shooting of 28 year-old Jamal Bell was justified. Protesters, including some members of Black Lives Matter Utah, could be heard chanting and yelling on the corner of 24th and Washington.
Last March, officers were called to Bell’s Harrisville apartment after a neighbor reported hearing him and his girlfriend arguing, both inside and outside. When police approached Bell’s front door, Bell could be seen walking up to the doorway with knives in his possession.
"When people that are not threatening you, and you feel like they’re a threat to you just because you’re big, or whatever the reason, they need a different resort than going straight to shooting somebody.” — Jamal Bell
“Drop the knives!” officers said repeatedly.
Bell did not drop the knives. At one point, an officer was seen in body cam video deploying a taser. However, the hooks were deflected as Bell started to close the door.
Officers eventually open fire as Bell walked out the doorway and appeared to approach them. In the video, about 15 shots could be heard. Officials said 11 of those shots struck Bell.
“I understand if someone pulls a gun out on you, then yes, you have to do what you’ve got to do,” Bell said at the protest. “But when people that are not threatening you, and you feel like they’re a threat to you just because you’re big, or whatever the reason ... they need a different resort than going straight to just shooting somebody.”
Bell said he had the knives in his hands because he was cleaning his apartment, and that he believes officers would have fired whether he dropped them or not. He has asked that law enforcement train differently and learn to de-escalate confrontations.
“(There were) four officers, and they shot one taser at me,” Bell said. “No matter what, if they felt threatened, they have three other times they could have used those tasers. Or, instead of right when they get there, pulling their guns on me? They need some kind of tactical training besides that.”
Bell faces four counts of assault against a police officer. He believes those charges should be dropped too, since he said he was walking toward officers to surrender and not to attack.