SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill cleared a West Valley City police officer of any wrongdoing in the shooting of a burglary suspect Friday. Body camera video of the intense encounter shows that pulling the trigger may have saved the officer’s life.
It was 1:30 in the morning on May 10 when three West Valley City PD officers responded to a burglary in progress in the 4700 block of West Huntington Street, where they encountered 25-year-old Denny James Clark in a driveway holding a yellow crowbar and threatening “somebody’s getting it.”
“Drop that. Put that down. Drop it right now,” the officers shouted.
“Nope,” Clark replied.
District Attorney Gill praised Officers Steve Mogensen and Kurtis Braley for their restraint.
“You actually see his left hand up as they both back up,” Gill said. “So they’re really trying to communicate to him ‘Look we’re backing up. Stop. Don’t do this’ but he’s pretty insistent. He announces he’s going to go after them.”
Clark can be heard saying “Here I come” as he raised the crowbar over his head and charged at Officer Mogensen. Officer Braley and Officer Jacob Locher tried to stop Clark with their tasers.
“Taser taser taser! Ineffective!” Officer Locher shouted.
Unable to catch Officer Mogensen, Clark pivots and turns toward Officer Braley.
“Drop it right now. I’ll…shoot,” Officer Braley says before firing his pistol.
From Officer Locher’s camera, you can see Officer Braley fire five times, striking Clark twice. For Gill, the body cam video made this an open and shut investigation.
“I think it is textbook in the sense that they tried to deescalate the situation,” Gill told reporters. “They did everything I think is reasonable. He kept escalating to a point where I think where they ended up having to use lethal force in that situation, so I think they did about as good as they could have done it.”
Clark was wounded in the elbow and lower abdomen. He was treated at a hospital and now faces felony charges of assault on a police officer and aggravated burglary.