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Shot South Jordan officer's injury could have been fatal, police say

The femoral artery of a South Jordan police officer was severed when he was shot over the weekend while attempting to arrest a man. Investigators say the injury could have been fatal if he had not received immediate medical treatment.

The femoral artery of a South Jordan police officer was severed when he was shot over the weekend while attempting to arrest a man. Investigators say the injury could have been fatal if he had not received immediate medical treatment. (Steve Griffin, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SOUTH JORDAN — A man with a history of drug-related crimes and fleeing from police has been officially arrested and accused of shooting and nearly killing a South Jordan police officer.

Malui Salesi Vehikite, 29, has now been formally arrested for investigation of attempted aggravated murder, two counts of aggravated assault, possession of a weapon by a restricted person and illegal discharge of a firearm. As of Tuesday, however, he remained in a local hospital.

Vehikite is accused of shooting a South Jordan police officer inside the home where he was staying on Friday. The bullet severed the officer's femoral artery in his left leg and shattered his femur, according to a police booking affidavit. The officer was still in the hospital receiving treatment on Tuesday.

"(The officer's) injury was found to be potentially fatal had he not received proper and exigent medical treatment," the affidavit states. A tourniquet was applied to the officer's leg by other officers after he was shot.

Vehikite also pointed a gun at two other officers, according to the affidavit. At least one officer returned fire, causing critical injuries to Vehikite.

Police had gone to 10424 S. Tarali Court (1875 West) where they knocked on the door in an attempt to locate Vehikite, who had several warrants out for his arrest. Police said they also wanted to talk to him regarding a stolen vehicle case. The residents allowed the officers inside the house to search for Vehikite.

"Officers entered a basement bedroom which they were attempting to clear," according to the affidavit.

That's when a police sergeant heard Vehikite say either "Don't" or "No" and then "saw Malui walking backward down the hallway, holding a gun," the affidavit states.

Moments later, gunshots were fired and the sergeant saw one of his officers fall to the ground. As the sergeant started to pursue Vehikite, several more gunshots were heard near the stairwell, police wrote in the arrest report.

"He observed Malui laying on the second platform of the stairs. Malui sustained several gunshot wounds and received emergency assistance before being transported to the hospital where he currently remains," the affidavit says.

Police later reviewed body camera video from the incident and it shows the officer who was shot in the leg returning fire after being hit, and then a second officer shooting Vehikite in the stairwell, according to the affidavit.

"The body camera footage clearly captures Malui pointing and shooting his firearm in the direction of (the officer) and clearly captures Malui pointing his firearm at (a second officer) who in response fires his weapon at Malui," the affidavit states. "Mr. Vehikite knowingly shot a police officer and pointed his firearm in the direction of two other police officers, showing a disregard for human life. This incident was captured on multiple police officers' body cameras."

Investigators later served a search warrant on the house where numerous items associated with burglaries and thefts were found in Vehikite's room, such as many driver's licenses, car and house keys and checks, as well as drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Vehikite had four warrants out for his arrest at the time of the shooting, according to the affidavit.

  • On Aug. 18, he was charged in 3rd District Court with two counts of failing to stop at the command of police, a third-degree felony, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
  • On March 25, he was charged with several crimes, including theft by receiving stolen property, a second-degree felony; possession of a firearm by a restricted person and fleeing from police, according to court records. A warrant for his arrest was issued in that case on April 19.
  • Another warrant was issued for his arrest in February for allegedly violating the conditions of his probation on a 2014 drug-related conviction by failing to show up for court.

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