Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY — As a man holding two knives briskly advanced toward him, a Wellington, Carbon County, police officer retreated with his gun drawn.
“Put the knife down. I don’t want to shoot you, but I will,” officer Garrett Safely yells as Bobby Ray Duckworth continues to walk toward him.
“Put it down, man. It ain’t worth it,” the officer yells.
Moments later, as Duckworth continues to advance, the officer fires at least six shots, killing him.
On Friday, the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office released Safely’s body camera video showing the deadly confrontation from Sept. 10. Safely is a full-time officer with another agency and a reserve officer for Wellington, as all officers are in Wellington with the exception of the chief. He was hired by the Helper Police Department in 2017.
Earlier that same day, Duckworth — who was charged in July in Wellington Justice Court with assault, a class B misdemeanor, and disorderly conduct, an infraction — was in court for his arraignment. He pleaded not guilty to both charges.
Approximately two hours after his hearing was scheduled to begin, police were called to the area of 900 E. Railroad Ave. on a report of a suicidal individual. The area is about a mile from the Wellington Justice Courthouse.
Safely found Duckworth, 26, of Wellington, standing in a field across from him. The officer had to climb uphill to a set of railroad tracks, and cross the tracks into a field to make contact with Duckworth.
There is a ditch, a fence, shrubs and sagebrush between the officer and Duckworth, who is standing motionless while facing away from the officer, seemingly staring blankly.
“Hey man, what’s going on? Sir. Duckworth. Hey man, talk to me. What’s going on?” Safely calls out in the video.
But Duckworth does not move or respond.
“He’s got a knife in each hand. He’s not listening to commands,” the officer tells dispatchers.
Safely tells Duckworth that he just saw him in court and asks him again to put the knife down.
“Hey man, put the knives down and let’s have a conversation. This doesn’t have to be bad,” he said.
Duckworth then turns and faces the officer and holds the knives out to his side, one in each hand.
“Just put it down man, it ain’t worth it, bro,” Safely repeats.
A dispatcher can be heard on the officer’s police radio that she has received information that Duckworth wants to commit “suicide by cop.” As Safely tells Duckworth, “You didn’t do this in court today,” Duckworth can be heard responding something about “it’s been an ongoing (inaudible),”
Hey man, put the knives down and let’s have a conversation. This doesn’t have to be bad.
–officer Garrett Safely
“Then let’s fix it. This isn’t the right way, bro. This is not the right way man. I want to help you out. This is not OK,” Safely tells him.
“I can’t do this anymore,” Duckworth responds.
“What can’t you do?”
“Any of it.”
“What’s the plan here, man? What’s your end goal? I’m not going to shoot you, if that’s what you want. That’s the last thing we want to do, brother. We want to help you. What’s going on? Is it the court stuff?” Safely asks as he continues to try and get Duckworth to drop the knives.
But that’s when Duckworth begins walking in a hurried motion down into the ditch that separated the two men, and up to the officer’s side.
Safely immediately draws his gun and repeats several times to drop the knives. Safely steps over a fence and starts retreating to the railroad tracks.
About 25 seconds after Duckworth first started walking towards the officer, he is shot multiple times just as he reaches the tracks. In the video, Safely continues to hold him at gunpoint, demanding that Duckworth show his hands, which are hidden under the front part of his body.
But Duckworth does not move as Safely waits for backup. When more officers arrive, they are able to retrieve two knives from underneath Duckworth’s lifeless body, and confirm he has no pulse.
The shooting was investigated by a multi-agency team fronted by the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office. Their investigation was turned over to the Carbon County Attorney’s Office, which determined the use of deadly force was legally justified.
According to Carbon County Attorney Jeremiah Humes’ letter clearing Safely, Duckworth advanced on the officer in an “aggressive” manner, and “no cover was available to officer Safely and further backward retreat on uneven loose gravel with trip hazards increased the danger to the officer.
“He acted promptly and lawfully,” Humes wrote.
The county attorney also expressed his condolences to the Duckworth family.