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SOUTH JORDAN — Formal criminal charges were filed Monday against a man accused of shooting a South Jordan police officer, severing the officer's femoral artery and nearly killing him.
Malui Salesi Vehikite, 29, of South Jordan, is charged in 3rd District Court with attempted aggravated murder, a first-degree felony; two counts of assault on a police officer, a second-degree felony; and possession of a firearm by a restricted person, a third-degree felony.
Vehikite was released from a local hospital over the weekend after being treated for gunshot wounds and he was immediately booked into the Salt Lake County Jail.
On Nov. 26, South Jordan police officers went to 10424 S. Tarali Court (1875 West) in an attempt to locate Vehikite who was wanted on several outstanding felony warrants. The officers were allowed inside the house by a family member to look for Vehikite.
Body camera video recorded by the officer who was shot shows that while he was looking in the basement, the officer pushed a door to a bathroom open and then heard someone from behind the door say, "Back up." As the officer backed up into an adjacent bedroom, Vehikite exited the bathroom, pointed his gun at a police sergeant and then shot the other officer, according to charging documents.
Prior to the shooting, the sergeant heard Vehikite say either, "Don't" or "No" and then saw him walking backward in the hallway while holding a gun, the charges state. Moments later, shots were fired and he said he saw his fellow officer fall to the ground.
As the sergeant chased after Vehikite, he heard several more shots and found Vehikite lying in the stairwell, the charges state. An officer who was in the upstairs portion of the house heard the first round of shots and ran toward the stairwell as Vehikite was coming up the stairs.
"As Vehikite makes it to the landing, he encounters (the officer), puts both hands on his gun and raises the gun at (the officer)," according to the charges.
The officer responded by immediately firing at Vehikite. Prosecutors say all three officers who confronted Vehikite were wearing body cameras that were recording.
"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," a police 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."
The injured officer "suffered a single gunshot wound to his leg that shattered his femur and severed his femoral artery. His injury was found to be potentially fatal had he not received proper and exigent medical treatment," charging documents state. The name of the officer who was shot has not been released.
After the shooting, investigators went back into the home with a search warrant to collect evidence. Some of the items collected include "several bullet fragments, casings, firearms, drug paraphernalia and multiple mixed prescribed pills" in addition to marijuana and other THC drugs, the charges state.
"Officers located numerous driver's licenses and credits cards belonging to other individuals, and multiple personal checks written to Vehikite — all appearing to be written in the same handwriting," the charges allege.