Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY — For nearly eight minutes, crisis workers talked with George Gulla calmly without any sign of a problem.
Then, seemingly without warning, Gulla, 37, grabbed a gun, prompting Salt Lake police officers to fire more than a dozen rounds, according to body camera videos released Tuesday. Gulla was critically injured and remained hospitalized Tuesday but is expected to survive, according to police.
"This incident is reflective of how a situation can turn dangerous with no warning," said Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown in a prepared statement.
Salt Lake police on Tuesday released two body camera videos from officers who responded to the Nov. 8 incident.
The officers were called to assist Mobile Crisis Outreach Team members from Huntsman Mental Health Institute who offer community-based intervention to individuals experiencing a crisis. The team includes a licensed clinical social worker and a certified peer support specialist, called whenever someone may be having mental health issues.
Family members had "planned an intervention" for Gulla and had contacted the outreach team for assistance, according to charging documents.
The officers arrived at a home near 900 East and 1700 South, where the two social workers and a family member were trying to talk to Gulla inside a detached garage. Police say before entering the garage, the social workers discussed with officers their safety concerns as well as Gulla's recent drug use and prior police interaction, which included a weapons-related incident that prompted a SWAT team response.
In that February incident, Gulla walked into a restaurant with two weapons, including an AR-15 strapped to his chest, court documents state. After he was taken into custody, Gulla allegedly told officers "he hears voices telling him to do things and that the voices make him angry."
In the week leading up to the November confrontation, Gulla claimed he had been using methamphetamine and was threatening to "kill people," charging documents state.
The body camera videos begin with officers walking into the garage. For nearly eight minutes the officers stand in the background as the crisis workers speak with Gulla, who is lying on a bed in a garage cluttered with a lot of items. The audio is redacted by police for privacy concerns.
Family members woke Gulla up and told him that "they wanted to help him, making mention of his recent threats to harm his mother and to kill someone. Gulla sat up and told her and everyone to back up. Gulla then asked for a cigarette," according to the charges.
When the audio from the police videos is restored, a crisis worker is seen at the foot of Gulla's bed and is talking in a calm voice, apparently about restoring voting privileges. According to police, Gulla "became agitated" during the conversation.
Salt Lake police body cam video
In the video, he is seen sitting up in the bed and appears to be reaching for something. The crisis worker is then seen quickly moving away and the two officers fire more than a dozen shots.
Gulla was shot 11 times, according to court documents.
"Gulla reached his right hand over his waist to his left side and drew a gun. As Gulla swung the gun toward (the crisis worker) and the officers, (the worker) believes Gulla began firing, as (she) heard gunshots. Neither Gulla or the officers said anything before Gulla drew the gun and began firing. One of the officers pulled (the worker) down and (she) heard more gunshots. (The worker) stated it happened so quickly and was surprised the officers acted so quickly and saved (the others in the room)," charging documents state.
"Show us your hands! Put your hands on the bed!" the officers command Gulla when the shooting ends.
For the next two minutes, the officers continue to give Gulla commands as he lay on the floor moaning, but the officers are unable to approach him because they can't see where the gun went.
"I can't move. Get me out of here, please," Gulla cries multiple times. "Please help."
Gulla asks for water several times.
The officers continue to order Gulla to place both hands on the bed as they continued to look for the gun.
"We cannot help you 'til you do so," one officer says.
Gulla tells the officers he can't move any more than he already has.
One officer then tells his partner, "I do not see the gun, I see his hands," as they prepared to move in. One officer then drags Gulla away from the bed as the other looks for the gun, which is eventually found. Gulla is placed in handcuffs before the officers provide medical help.
The police shooting will now be reviewed internally and by the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office.
Gulla was charged on Nov. 15 with two counts of assault on a police officer, a second-degree felony, and three counts of aggravated assault, a third-degree felony.
According to charging documents, Gulla wanted the officers in his garage to leave.
"Gulla stated the object he reached for was a pellet gun, and he did so because he wasn't thinking clearly, and felt threatened and cornered. Gulla stated he did not want to live on the street and from his experience, the presence of police meant that he would have to live somewhere else, or 'exactly what happened' would happen," the charges state.