Yukai Peng, KSL

'It’s not worth it,' police implored man armed with knife in July before shooting him

By Pat Reavy, KSL | Posted - Aug. 7, 2020 at 7:33 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — Two Salt Lake police officers yelled commands to “drop the knife” and said “it’s not worth it” before firing multiple rounds at a man who appeared to be holding another man hostage at knifepoint.

On Friday, the Salt Lake City Police Department released body camera videos from the two officers involved in the fatal shooting on July 25 in front of a Smith’s grocery store, 455 S. 500 East. Andrew Jacob Preece, 34, was shot while still holding a knife to the throat of another man.

Police were originally called to the store after the two men entered together to steal undisclosed items, according to police. At some point, witnesses said they got into an argument inside the store that continued when they exited into the parking lot.

In a recording of the 911 call, a store employee tells police dispatchers that the men were still in the parking lot and appeared to be intoxicated.

“I think they’re drunk or something. They keep fighting each other in the parking lot,” he said. “They can’t even walk straight.”

The employee also noted that one of the men had a knife, which he described as being about the same size as a forearm, and that both “keep turning around like they’re going to come back into the store, and they keep looking over here.”

As the first officer arrives, his body camera recorded the men walking on the sidewalk in front of the store on 500 South near 571 East. Preece is holding the knife and has his other hand on the man and appears to be leading him down the road. The officer pulls out his Taser and tells Preece to “drop the knife.”

“I will tase you,” he says in the video. “Stop right there.”

The officer then pulls out his firearm and at one point in the video can be seen holding both his Taser and gun at Preece at the same time.

When the officer announces his presence, Preece stops walking and pulls the man close to him, wrapping one arm around him from behind while holding the knife to his throat.

“He’s got a hostage,” the officer is heard saying as he holsters his Taser.

Salt Lake Police Capt. Richard Lewis plays video footage taken by a police officer’s body camera of a July 25 officer-involved shooting during a press conference at the Public Safety Building in Salt Lake City on Friday, Aug. 7, 2020. (Photo: Yukai Peng, KSL)

A female officer then arrives on scene and both she and the first officer can be heard giving multiple commands to “put it down.”

“Dude, it’s not worth it,” the female officer yells. “I guarantee it dude, I promise you.”

As Preece faces one officer and his side is exposed to the other, a shot is fired, followed by a slight pause, then a second shot and a pause, then a third shot and a pause followed by several more in rapid succession after the hostage breaks free from Preece. The Deseret News counted nine to 10 shots. The first shot was fired about a minute after the body camera video started.

The two officers attempted life-saving measures after shooting Preece, but he died from his wounds.

According to court records, Preece has a number of felony and misdemeanor cases dating back to 2005. He graduated from mental health court in March after he was charged with retail theft, a class A misdemeanor. The charge was amended to a class B misdemeanor upon his completion of mental health court.

The shooting is being reviewed by an independent Officer Involved Critical Incident team from another police department. Their findings will be submitted to the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, which will determine whether the shooting was legally justified.

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