OREM (ABC4 News) – As the investigation continues into an officer-involved shooting with Orem Police Friday night, a Utah County family said they want to know why their daughter’s injuries were left out of investigating documents.
Orem resident Laura Jones said her stepdaughter, Julia Jones was in the car with her ex-spouse, Samantha Bencomo Friday night before she was struck in the face by a gunshot fired by an Orem police officer who was trying to stop Bencomo from fleeing.
“Their relationship was always really toxic. There was domestic violence involved. She was finally able to separate from Sam and she was living with us again. But we didn’t know she had gone to see Sam again that day,” said Laura Jones.
According to the probable cause statement, the incident started when the one of the owners of Leiva Motors in Orem witnessed Bencomo backing up and hitting a Jeep Wrangler that was for sale in the lot.
ABC4 News spoke with owner Monday morning, who said he then got into his personal car and went after Bencomo.
When Bencomo allegedly pulled into the Fast Gas near 1000 North State Street, the car dealership owner flagged down a nearby Orem police officer for help. Bencomo reportedly fled again.
Another officer later spotted Bencomo’s truck heading west on 800 North and pulled his cruiser in front of the suspect’s truck at the intersection of 800 West. Charging documents state the officer exited his patrol car and ordered the suspect to stop.
But Bencomo allegedly ignored the orders, reversed the truck, and tried to run down the officer. Police finally arrested the suspect a short time later when they crashed their truck at 980 West and 1600 North.
Bencomo was booked on several charges including attempted murder of a police officer, leaving the scene of an accident, and failure to stop at the command of a police officer.
However, Jones’ family members said what investigators failed to include in the report was that there was a passenger in Bencomo’s truck during the police pursuit – Julia Jones. They said police also failed to include that an officer fired at Bencomo’s vehicle in an attempt to stop them, and one of the gunshots hit the passenger in the face.
Orem police initially reported the incident as an officer-involved shooting on social media. But when ABC4 News reviewed Bencomo’s arresting documents, there was no mention of an officer firing shots, any passengers who were involved, or any injuries.
“We’re not saying this officer maliciously shot her. We understand that accidents happen but we want them to admit that, ‘Yeah, we shot her. She was shot. She was injured because of what one of our officers did,” said Laura Jones.
She said their family was initially informed about Julia’s injuries around 1 a.m. Saturday morning.
“An officer came to our door and told us our daughter had been shot in the face. I literally almost dropped to the floor and had to steady myself before asking if she was still alive,” said Laura Jones.
Her family immediately rushed to the hospital to see Julia, but said they were denied entry because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“Dale (Julia’s dad) feels helpless. He wanted to be there with her, but can’t because of the virus. We understand that,” she said. “We’ve tried to FaceTime with her, but she’s been heavily sedated because she’s so swollen.”
Jones’ family believes she is a victim in all of this and said they find it unlikely that she conspired with Bencomo on the police chase.
“According to the nurses, she had taken the steering wheel from Sam and crashed the truck into the fence. That’s why they stopped cause she wanted to end the chase because she had been shot in the face,” said Laura Jones.
She added, “They say that when she wakes up, she always asks, ‘How come they shot me and not Sam?’ which is really heartbreaking. That tells me Julia wasn’t of trying to run the officer down. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Miraculously, Jones is expected to survive her injuries, but not without a long road to recovery.
“We thought that being shot in the jaw that half of her face had been taken out. But it turns out that it was on the left side and came out of her chin. It took out some teeth and broke her jaw in four places. They were able to piece that together and now her jaw is wired shut. She’s on a breathing tube, not because she can’t breathe, but because her throat is so swollen,” said Laura.
As they anxiously await for more information to be released about the incident, Jones’ family said they’re frustrated that her injuries were left out of police reports. In the meantime, the Jones family has set up an online fundraiser to help with medical expenses.
“First of all, they didn’t admit anybody was hurt in the shooting or that there was a passenger. But then we’re told that once she’s released from the hospital, she’s going to be charged? With what?” said Laura Jones.
ABC4 News reached out to Orem Police Department for comment. But investigators said new details about the incident would not be released until Wednesday.
LATEST NEWS STORIES:
- Tooele police need help finding more information about a hostage situation turned deadly
- Clearfield City to cancel youth sports
- Fremont High School football team forfeits playoff game due to COVID-19 outbreak
- Actor Jeff Bridges reveals he has been diagnosed with lymphoma
- Commission to mute microphones in next presidential debate