DA says officer-involved shooting of man in West Valley City garage was justified

Local News

WEST VALLEY CITY (News4Utah)-  District Attorney Sim Gill said the officer who used deadly force against a 20-year-old back in April was justified in his actions.

The shooting happened April 8. Police said they were chasing 20-year-old Elijah Smith as part of a theft investigation when he entered a home and took refuge inside the garage.

Inside the home were three children, ages 13, 10 and 9 years old. The older child told officers they didn’t know the man in their garage.

The officers repeatedly commanded Smith to come out and raise his hands, but Gill said Smith continued to move his hands and ignore the commands of the officers. A police report stated officers gave the commands 15 times in 24 seconds.

“Still moving toward the officers, Mr. Smith took his right hand out of his hoodie pocket to reveal he was holding a long screwdriver,” Gill said.

Officers immediately reacted. One of them firing off his taser, the other, officer Nicholaus Green, shooting three rounds of a gun at Smith.

He was pronounced dead on scene.

Shortly after the incident, West Valley City released body camera footage from the three separate officers involved in the shooting.

The videos begin with the officers approaching the home and end with the shots fired. (Note: The faces of any children present were blurred.) 

After investigating all of the evidence Gill said there would be no criminal charges filed against officer Green.

“We believe officer Green would be legally entitled to the affirmative defense of justification under Utah State law. In other words, that officer Green would be able to claim successfully at trial that he believed the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent death or serious injury to the officer or another person,” Gill said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Transfer of Power

FULL COVERAGE: Transfer of Power