WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC4) – A West Valley City officer has been found justified in his use of deadly force after shooting and killing a man in handcuffs in the police station nearly two years ago.
In August 2019, Chad Breinholt was taken into custody after a witness reported he was intoxicated and causing problems at the place of business.
West Valley City Police, at the time, said officers responded and contacted Breinholt in front of the business. Officers say they determined that there was evidence that Breinholt was under the influence and that he had been driving a vehicle while in that condition.
Breinholt was taken to the DUI processing room at the West Valley City Police Department, located in the basement of city hall.
During the intake process, an altercation took place, authorities say. According to Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, Breinholt grabbed one of the officers’ gun and would not let go.
One officer – later identified as Sgt. Tyler Longman – then fired his weapon, striking and killing Breinholt.
Just before the shooting, Longman can be heard saying, “You’re about to die, my friend.”
“As a civilian do I think the death could have been averted? Yeah,” said Gill.
“Do I think there’s a community of citizens out there that are incensed about it because they think this could have been averted and this could have been handled differently? Yes, and I think that’s legitimate,” added Gill.
During a Thursday walkthrough of the findings, DA Gill says his office has determined Sgt. Longman’s use of deadly for was legally justified. He adds his office is unable to meet the threshold to prove Sgt. Longman was in the wrong because the officer was faced with a situation in which his life and the lives of other officers were threatened by Breinholt’s actions.
“Was it reasonable for Longman to think that that gun could come out? And if that was reasonable, was it reasonable for him to use lethal force?” said Gill.
He says subject experts who reviewed the case said it would be ruled justified under the law.
“I have to look at the cold reality of what the law allows me to do. And, I cannot contradict the factual circumstances that are here,” said Gill.