OREM (ABC4 News) – New dash camera video released by the Orem Police Department shows the moments leading up to Friday’s officer-involved shooting that injured and hospitalized the passenger in the suspect’s car.
In Wednesday afternoon’s press conference, Chief Gary Giles also addressed concerns from the passenger’s family about why her injuries were not included the suspect’s arresting documents.
The incident all started around 6:20 p.m. Friday. According to the probable cause statement, the incident started when the one of the owners of Leiva Motors in Orem witnessed Samantha Bencomo, 27, backing up and hitting a Jeep Wrangler that was for sale in the lot.
ABC4 News spoke with owner Monday morning, who said he then got into his personal car and went after Bencomo. The owner then said he waved down an Orem police officer for help after Bencomo pulled into the Fast Gas, but then fled again.
Another officer later spotted Bencomo’s truck heading west on 800 North and pulled his cruiser in front of the suspect’s truck at the intersection of 800 West.
In dash cam video released by the Orem Police Department Wednesday, Bencomo could be seen reversing the truck from the police cruiser after being ordered to stop and then driving towards the officer, eventually hitting him.
“As the officer got out of his vehicle, he had his weapon drawn at that time and began putting his gun back in his holster. The driver accelerated and made, what appears to be a deliberate attempt to turn sharply into the officer,” said Chief Giles.
He went on to say, “The first time I saw that video, I had a little bit of a gasp seeing the vehicle come right at the officer. I’ll ask you a rhetorical question. Do you think you could’ve jumped out of the way? Someone who was a little slower probably wouldn’t have.”
Chief Giles said it was during this time that the officer fired multiple gunshots at the truck in an attempt to stop Bencomo.
“As a police officer having worked many, many years on the street, this is a very dynamic situation. As this officer now has his emergency lights activated, you now have somebody who is backing away from the officer, motioning to him like this (does a ‘come here’ gesture). If it were me, I would be a little concerned for my safety at that point,” he said.
One of the gunshots hit Bencomo’s passenger and ex-wife, Julia Jones in the face. Bencomo was eventually stopped and arrested a short time later when they crashed their truck at 980 West and 1600 North. Bencomo was booked on several charges including attempted murder of a police officer, leaving the scene of an accident, and failure to stop at the command of a police officer.
However, Bencomo’s arresting documents did not mention any details about an officer firing shots, any passengers who were involved, or any injuries. In an interview with ABC4 News Monday, Jones’ family said they wanted to know why their daughter’s injuries were left out of the probable cause statement.
Chief Giles answered that question in Wednesday’s press conference, explaining that Bencomo’s criminal case is separate from the officer-involved shooting case.
“The reason why it wasn’t included was because the officer-involved shooting wasn’t a critical part of the charges Bencomo faces. But it appears in many, many reports. I haven’t read through all of them, but all of the officers’ reports will reflect that,” he said. “Was Orem police trying to downplay this? Absolutely not. We followed every bit of the protocol.”
He added, “If you’ve ever looked at a police report compared to a probable cause statement, the probable cause statement is very brief. It’s just basically presenting to a judge what the probable cause to hold them is. A police report documents everything.”
As standard protocol for officer-involved shootings, the case will be investigated by Utah County’s OICI team. The officer who was hit by Bencomo’s truck is expected to be OK.
Chief Giles said at this time, it is unknown whether Jones will face charges once she is released from the hospital. He said the investigation is still active and in its preliminary phases, with more interviews and information-gathering that needs to take place.
“The city police department definitely expresses our sympathy to the passenger and her family and we hope and wish her a quick and speedy recovery,” he said.
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