Grieving family claims abuse by West Valley City police after baby’s death

Local News

WEST VALLEY CITY Utah (News4Utah) – Their son had just died and the Evans family went home to grieve.

Two-month-old baby Kameron died from respiratory problems after two visits to the emergency room.  At St. Marks Hospital, the baby was diagnosed with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), but the family was told the baby would be fine. The next day, the family brought Kameron back to the hospital when the symptoms returned. He died shortly thereafter.  

But after arriving home on February 24, West Valley police were at their door.

“It is routine for police to investigate an unattended death,” said West Valley police chief Colleen Jacobs.

But the family claimed the officer went to far.  In a recording from their home surveillance camera, the officer is told to “leave them the (expletive) alone.”  It was the baby’s grandfather according the family attorney.

“We were grieving and didn’t want to be bothered,” said Maryssa Evans, the baby’s mother.

But the answer at the door may have caused the West Valley police officer to knock open the door and go inside the home.  Once inside the situation became chaotic.  There was yelling and arguing between police and family members.  The officer can be heard saying arrests are possible.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” said Richard Estrada, the baby’s grandfather.

“Turn around and put your hands behind your back,” the officer responded.

“Sir, I did nothing,” Estrada said again.

The video showed the two men struggling when Tevin Evans joins them.  He and the officer both fall down the steps.

More officers arrive and Evans is finally arrested. Two family members are pepper sprayed.

“Watching everything that happened at the hospital up until the very last moment, five feet away from him, it was just horrific,” said Maryssa Evans.  “(It was) like right out of a Hollywood movie.  And then to come home to deal with everything that happened there, it was just a troubled day.”

Evans was jailed for assaulting an officer but was released.

“Shocked, is the best way to put it” he said.  “(It’s like a) nightmare, like Maryssa said, it’s unbelievable.”

The family hired an attorney who is considering a lawsuit but plans to meet with police first.

“Can you imagine at a time like this, a sensitive time like this when you’ve lost a little tiny baby and having the police do something like this?” said Robert Sykes.  “Totally unjustified.” 

He said police didn’t have a reason to “barge” into the home and said they didn’t even have a search warrant.

West Valley’s police chief said the incident is under investigation by their internal affairs as well as an independent review by the state’s Professional Standards Review Board.

“It was concerning because what seemed to have been routine investigation, it was a death investigation and for it to turn into a use of force, clearly something happened,” said Chief Colleen Jacobs.  “And we need to know why it went down that road.”

She said the officer has been reassigned and will not have any interaction with the public until the investigations are complete.

“I have extremely high expectations of my officer,” she said.  “I expect the highest level of professionalism in their conduct and I will not expect anything less.”

Meanwhile the family attorney said they were considering filing a civil lawsuit Friday but backed down.

“Their city attorney wants to meet with us,” Sykes said.

He was unsure whether the city plans to offer a settlement.

“An apology isn’t good enough,” said Tevin Evans.  “We don’t think those words from the officer will be meaningful because he may be forced (by his superiors) to say those words.”

West Valley City Police Department complete statement: 

“The incident that prompted this complaint came to our attention through our own internal review process. West Valley City Police supervisors regularly review actions taken by our officers, including things such as, response to resistance and forced entry. It was during one of these standard reviews that we became aware of this incident. The incident did pose concern for us and prompted us to immediately launch an internal investigation. That investigation is currently underway. While this investigation is occurring, the involved officer has been placed in a modified assignment where he has no contact with the public.

The West Valley City Police Department is committed to gaining a full understanding of this incident, how it happened, why it happened and how we can ensure that only the highest levels of professionalism are displayed by West Valley City Police Officers.”

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