TAYLORSVILLE, Utah (ABC4) –In a confrontation with a gang member, 11 officers shot and killed the suspect—they were declared legally justified.
After an investigation of the situation, District Attorney Sim Gill announced in a decision Friday, Mar. 10 that officers were justified in their use of force against Anei Gabriel Joker, 20.
The original incident occurred on Dec. 1, 2021. According to court documents, the 11 officers were part of a task force looking for Joker, who was wanted for the alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl.
The officers were with the West Valley City Police Department, United Police Department, Salt Lake City Police Department, West Jordan City Police Department, Utah State Bureau of Investigations, and Utah Adult Probation and Parole.
According to the court document, Joker had allegedly raped a 15-year-old girl the previous weekend and was wanted for allegedly shooting at the alleged victim’s residence after she reported the rape to the police. According to the victim, Joker still had the victim’s iPhone with him.
The task force tracked the victim’s phone, which led them to Joker. Joker was reportedly hiding out in a tan GMC Yukon with tinted windows near West Kearns Elementary. One officer followed the Yukon until it pulled up to a gas pump at the 7-Eleven on the corner of 4100 South and Redwood Road around 9 p.m.
According to the report, there were five others were in the car with Joker. A woman was the driver, Joker was in the front passenger seat, a male was in the second row behind the driver, and a baby was next to him, and in the third row, there was a female and a male. The report does not identify what ages the passengers were.
The driver left the Yukon with the keys, and with the other female passenger, and went into the 7-Eleven for snacks. At this point, the officer called the other task force members for backup, pulled into the 7-Eleven parking lot behind the Yukon, and put his emergency lights on.
Reportedly, Joker started cursing when he saw the police lights. The police then detained the passengers coming out of the 7-Eleven. The other passengers got out of the Yukon, except for Joker and the baby. Joker then reportedly held the baby in front of the window to show officers that he had it.
Police learned that Joker might be armed, and officers surrounded the vehicle. A UPD sergeant called Joker on his phone, after getting his number from a passenger, and asked who else was in the vehicle; Joker said there were kids in it. The officer then asked Joker what it would take to get him out of the Yukon, and Joker asked for a lighter. The sergeant said they would get him a lighter if he would let the kids out of the Yukon, and Joker agreed.
The police made the swap with Joker for the baby, he said he wanted ten minutes to smoke a blunt and make phone calls and said he would come out after. After ten minutes went by, Joker said he didn’t want to come out because he couldn’t reach his mom, but would come out if his brother came. Joker’s brother arrived at 10:07 p.m., but he still refused to come out.
According to the report, Joker’s friends started arriving at the 7-Eleven because he posted a Snapchat video showing police vehicles surrounding him with the word “shootout” displayed.
At 10:30 p.m., a detective with the WVPD fired 17 pepper balls into the Yukon through the open rear hatch. Pepper balls are similar to paintballs, except they contain an oleoresin capsicum powder, which is derived from hot peppers, with a similar effect as pepper spray.
Approximately eight seconds after the first pepper ball was fired, Joker opened the front passenger door, and turned toward the officers, one detective yelled “Gun, don’t do it, Joker, don’t do it!”
Joker then fired his gun toward the officer, and at other officers standing by the Yukon. As Joker fired his weapon, several officers fired back, hitting Joker several times.
According to the report, the timespan between the first pepper ball fired and the last gunshot was twelve seconds. Three officers received injuries during the incident including a gunshot in the chest of the officer who begged him not to shoot.
Joker reportedly fired a stolen .40 caliber Glock model 27 handgun. The stolen Glock contained 18 rounds, and could hold up to 23, the report states it is possible Joker fired up to five rounds.
Joker was taken by ambulance to the hospital where he was declared deceased. He had a total of 40 reported gunshot wounds/defects on his body. This included four gunshots to his torse, three to his right arm, five to his left arm, four to his right leg, and nine to his left leg.
According to the judge, law enforcement officers who used deadly force are entitled to the legal defense of justification; the officer reasonably believes the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury, or if the officer reasonably believes that deadly force is necessary to prevent a suspect’s escape.
The report also states the court’s reasonings for believing that it was reasonable to infer officers believed they needed to use deadly force in order to prevent death or serious bodily injury.
“Joker conveyed his willingness to endanger and risk many people’s lives. He was being investigated for sexual assault and for shooting at the alleged victim’s residence,” the report stated. They also stated that as soon as Joker got out of the vehicle he shot at officers.
The District Attorney stated that the officers involved in the deadly shooting were justified in using deadly force, and will not be criminally charged.