CEDAR CITY (ABC4 News) – James Aubrey Sr., 56, was shot and killed by an officer last month after Cedar City police say he pointed a gun at them. The Iron County Attorney’s Office announced Monday that the officer who fired the shots was legally justified and will not face criminal charges.
ABC4 News spoke exclusively with Iron County Attorney Chad Dotson and Cedar City Police Chief Darin Adams, who described how domestic violence calls are among the most dangerous and volatile officers respond to.
“What did you say? He was threatening you?” a Cedar City dispatcher asked Aubrey Sr.’s wife during the 911 call obtained by ABC4 News. “He’s threatening to kill us,” his wife responded, revealing that he might have a firearm at the residence.
On Nov. 11th at approximately 1:17 p.m., Cedar Dispatch received a call relaying information that Aubrey Sr. was making death threats towards his immediate family members and law enforcement. In total, four officers from the Cedar City Police Department responded to the residence near 820 South and Sunset Drive.
“In Cedar City, we have seen a demonstrable increase over the last several weeks, months, and years in domestic violence calls,” Adams said. “Officers receive training in various forms with regard to de-escalation and tactics and safety, which are necessary when responding to these calls.”
“They are very emotional because you’ve got family members, who, by all accounts, love each other and are invested. There’s a lot of potential for loss and disruption of life, and every officer who responds on these calls in the back of his or her mind understands the volatility and potential danger that comes with every response,” he added.
Officer Zachary Banz, an 8-year veteran with the department serving in different capacities within patrol and animal control, was one of the responding officers. Banz entered the residence with his gun in the low-ready position, along with Sgt. Bulloch, who was holding a taser. Two other officers trailed behind, according to Adams.
The officers asked Aubrey Sr. to come out with his hands visible, according to newly-released documents from the Iron County Attorney’s Office. At that moment, the suspect quickly appeared, pointing a gun directly at them. Immediately, Officer Banz fired three shots, each striking him.
“Certainly when James Aubrey Sr. came around the corner with a firearm pointing directly at Officer Banz and Sgt. Bulloch, he posed an immediate danger to their lives. Responding to that was reasonable and using deadly force was justified in that situation,” said Dotson.
Police said that just a week earlier, Officer Banz had responded to the residence after Aubrey Sr. threatened to kill individuals in California.
“Officer Banz is a very experienced officer who handles himself quite well,” Adams said. “On this particular incident, his experience, his education, and his confidence came through.”
“My heart and the heart of our department goes out to the family who was involved in this. We’re sensitive to what they have gone through and what they have endured for so long,” Adams continued. “Without the intervention and the courageous acts of these officers, it is my belief and the belief of my department and our administration that the family members and perhaps others would’ve been hurt that night, if not killed. We are very proud of the officers that responded.”
Cedar City Police confirmed that no officers were injured in the incident, and Officer Banz was placed on paid administrative leave immediately to allow the Iron/Beaver/Garfield County Critical Incident Task Force to conduct its investigation. Chief Adams emphasized the importance of this time for Banz to ensure he’s taken care of.
“Critical Incident Stress Debriefing conducted by the state as well as multiple visits to our local therapist set the foundation so that when they return to work, they can, as much as they can, put that behind them and move forward,” said Adams.
Officer Banz is expected to begin standard officer training next week and return to duty the following week, police confirmed.
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