2 officers were legally justified in killing Orem man, county attorney says

The Utah County Attorney's Office has determined that two officers were legally justified in shooting and killing an Orem man who had pointed a gun at them in August.

The Utah County Attorney's Office has determined that two officers were legally justified in shooting and killing an Orem man who had pointed a gun at them in August. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

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PROVO — Two police officers who shot and killed a man who had pointed a gun at them last year in Provo were legally justified in using deadly force, the Utah County Attorney's Office announced Tuesday.

The same office also announced Wednesday that two Lehi police officers were justified when they returned fire toward a gunman in a separate August incident days earlier.

Orem incident

On Aug. 24, Paul Finn Rasmussen, 48, of Orem, fled from a deputy who had attempted to pull him over. About two hours later, Utah County sheriff's deputy Justin Mortensen and Pleasant Grove police officer Chris Peterson, who were both working that night with the Utah County Major Crimes Task Force, spotted Rasmussen's vehicle parked near 300 North and 900 West in Provo. The detectives turned on their "police lights" and stepped out of their car.

Just as they did, Rasmussen exited his vehicle and drew a gun, according to police.

"When confronted by the first officer, Mr. Rasmussen turned and pointed a firearm at the officer. That officer took cover behind a nearby vehicle. Officer Peterson and deputy Mortensen then fired multiple rounds at Mr. Rasmussen. Mr. Rasmussen was struck multiple times and died from a gunshot wound. A firearm was located near Mr. Rasmussen, and another firearm was located in Mr. Rasmussen's clothing," according to a prepared statement from Utah County Attorney David Leavitt.

The officer-involved shooting investigation was conducted by the Lehi Police Department and the results were handed over to Leavitt's office.

"Upon review of the facts and all additional information contained in the various police reports compiled during the investigation, the Utah County Attorney's Office declines to file any criminal charges against either officer," Leavitt said.

Lehi incident

In the separate Aug. 21, 2021, Lehi incident, Lehi police were sent to investigate a report that gunshots were being fired from a house at 81 S. 1675 West.

"When officers responded, they heard three additional gunshots coming from the residence, some of which were fired in the direction of responding officers," Leavitt said in a statement.

Investigators say Jason Lutu was the only person in the house at the time and he was sending messages to friends and family threatening "that people would die." At some point, officers said they observed movement coming from a window and saw a firearm pointing out of that window and the gun was fired shortly after that.

"Officer Cooper Smith and officer Cole Peterson returned fire through the open window where the firearm had been observed. Mr. Lutu was not struck by the gunshots from the officers but was injured from flying debris from the gunshots. Mr. Lutu eventually surrendered and was taken into custody," Leavitt said.

The county attorney concluded that no charges would be filed against the officers.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the KSL.com team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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