OGDEN, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Two Roy police officers were “justified” following the shooting death of Nicholas Sanchez last February.
Sanchez had left a convenient store in Roy and the clerk called 911 claiming he was acting suspicious. The confrontation was caught on police body cameras as they approached Sanchez outside the store.
In his letter to the Roy police chief, Weber County Attorney Chris Allred wrote: “I find that both officers were justified in using deadly force under (Utah law).”
Allred said in his analysis that Sanchez had a lengthy criminal record including robbery, assault and weapons charges.
“He was known to routinely carry guns, despite being a ‘restricted person.'” Allred wrote.
He said during a previous investigation involving guns, Allred said Layton police interviewed one witness who claimed that “Sanchez said he would die before going back to prison and that he would shoot at the police.”
Allred said in his letter that during this current investigation another witness claimed Sanchez always carried a gun. Again, this second witness told police that Sanchez “would have shot it out with the police before going back to prison, adding ‘why do you think he carried a gun?'”
Allred said under Utah law police are justified in using deadly force when “the officer reasonably believes that “the use of deadly is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another person.”
He said Utah law also said if its possible “a verbal warning should be given by the officer prior to any use of deadly force.”
“As soon as the officers saw that Sanchez was carrying a gun, they clearly warned him not to reach for his gun,” Allred wrote. “Despite the warning, Sanchez reached toward the gun in his waistband.”
He said Officer Jackson saw Sanchez reach toward his gun after the warning. Allred said Jackson again saw Sanchez continuing to reach for his gun during the struggle” with Officer Ricks.
“Therefore it was reasonable for Jackson to believe that the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to (Officer) Ricks or to himself,” said Allred
The Weber County attorney also said Ricks saw Sanchez reach toward his gun after being warned not to.
“As Ricks was struggling with Sanchez over the gun, “Ricks saw the barrel of the gun pointed directly at him,” Allred said.
He said it was “reasonable” to believe Ricks thought the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury.
Allred said Ricks did get the gun away from Sanchez but “he did not have the luxury of immediately knowing whether Sanchez had other weapons.”
He said the case is an example of the potential danger officers face whenever they are on patrol.
“In this case I find that both officers were justified in using deadly force,” Allred wrote to Roy’s police chief.