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Police shoot, kill man suspected of stabbing woman in Pioneer Park

Salt Lake police officers shot and killed a man who they say charged after them with a knife at Pioneer Park on Thursday, June 10, 2021. The man is suspected of stabbing a woman minutes earlier. (Meghan Thackrey, KSL TV)



SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake police shot and killed a man suspected of stabbing and critically injuring a woman in Pioneer Park on Thursday after they say he charged toward officers.

Police responded about 8:46 a.m. Thursday and were helping a stabbing victim on the north side of the park near 300 South and 300 West. About two minutes later, officers were directed to a nearby man suspected of stabbing the woman, said Salt Lake Police Chief Mike Brown.

As they walked toward him, one of the officers noticed that the man was holding a knife. The officers stopped and told the man to put the knife down, but he started walking toward the officers, and then ran at them with the knife in his hand, Brown said.

The officers continued ordering the man to put the knife down, but he kept running at them, according to the chief. When the man got close enough to the officers, two officers fired their weapons.

Salt Lake Fire Chief Karl Lieb said four firefighters were putting the woman into the ambulance when the shooting occurred. He said two of them left the ambulance to try to save the man's life. The medical personnel tried to revive him for 20 to 25 minutes, but the man suffered cardiac arrest and died at the scene, Lieb said.

The man hadn't been identified Thursday afternoon and Brown said he didn't know where he had been shot.

Multiple witnesses said the man stabbed the woman in the park, and then police shot him. Brown said officers assume it was the same man who stabbed the woman but hadn't yet confirmed that. Police said they didn't know what the relationship is between the woman who was stabbed and her attacker.

The woman suffered critical injuries and was taken to a hospital, where Brown said she remained in critical condition. She had an arterial injury to her arm, as well as an abdominal injury, according to Lieb.

Construction workers who were near the park and rendered aid to the woman before emergency personnel arrived likely saved the woman's life, according to Brown.

"If not for the actions of bystanders rendering aid, she may have died from these injuries," he said. "I really and truly believe you saved a life today."

Brown didn't provide any other details about the stabbing or the shooting Thursday.

Police body camera footage of the shooting will be released within 10 days in accordance with Salt Lake City's transparency policy, the chief said. Salt Lake County's officer-involved critical incident investigation protocol has been activated, and an investigative team led by the West Valley police will be investigating both the stabbing and the police shooting, said Salt Lake police detective Michael Ruff.

Brown — who said he has seen the body camera footage of the incident — believes the officers who shot the man saved lives.

"The officers placed themselves in an extremely dangerous situation where they were forced to make a split-second decision," he said. "They made a decision to protect the community, our brothers and sisters of the Salt Lake City Fire Department, and themselves."

He added that the armed man ran toward the officers at full stride and their actions were fully within their training as members of the department.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, who said she has also seen body camera footage of the shooting, believes the officers had no other options.

"I believe that this was a choice that they had to make," the mayor said.

Mendenhall said the city has seen a 15% decrease in officer-involved shootings over the last six months, which she attributes to training reforms in the department.

"We're grateful that we've been seeing a decrease," she said.

Brown said officers have "worked really hard" over the past year to reduce such incidents, but said they can only do so much and some incidents are bound to happen from time.

Contributing: Morgan Wolfe, KSL TV

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