SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – The Salt Lake County District Attorney cleared a West Jordan police officer of any wrongdoing Friday after investigating an incident when he shot and killed a suspected truck thief who shot another officer at close range as dashboard cameras caught the entire sequence.
Moments after two West Jordan Police Officers pulled over a stolen pickup on the evening of Sunday, August 2nd, things suddenly turned violent. As Officer Gage Hoogveldt checked a passenger for weapons, the driver pulls a handgun at shoots Officer T. Jackson at close range.
The bullet grazed Officer Jackson’s chin and then entered his shoulder. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill says he survived with relatively minor injuries because two factors affected the trajectory of the bullet.
“The fact that the truck was jacked up and Officer Jackson was not as tall,” Gill said. “Given that same scenario at eyesight, that was a headshot wound that would have been fatal to that officer.”
As Officer Jackson stumbled to cover, the suspect, apparently not accustomed to the height of the truck, fell onto the street then fires at Officer Hoogveldt, who returns fire striking 17-year-old Cyrus Carpenter seven times. Carpenter was found nearby, dead from his wounds.
On Friday, District Attorney Gill said Officer Hoogveldt was justified in the shooting and should be commended.
“He did exactly what he was trained to do in the fashion to respond to the threat that was presented to him,” Gill said. “So it was very clear and we were lucky to have the videos that we did.”
That incident was one of 30 officer-involved shootings in the state of Utah this year, tying 2018’s record when 19 suspects were killed. Last year 12 were killed in 16 shootings and so far in 2020, 17 have died.
Gill says one is too many and points at our state’s lax gun laws that put officers on edge.
“Where we have the most liberal presence of weapons there is the greater that anxiety of that weapon being present in the encounter that you have,” he said. “There’s been multiple studies that have been shown, the laxer that access is the greater the percentage of officer-involved critical incidents that occur there…I don’t think that anybody can excuse away the reality of the prevalence of handguns in our community that contributes to that.”
Except for November, there has been at least one officer-involved shooting in Utah in every month of 2020.
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