SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Eight officers have been cleared of any wrongdoing in the shooting death of 25-year-old Zachary Alvarenga in February of 2022, according to the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office.
On February 17, 2022, Zachary Tyler Alvarenga, of West Jordan, was shot and killed after he led police on multiple pursuits in South Jordan — the third of which — he shot at officers, striking and killing West Jordan Police K-9 Maya.
Officers had responded to a report of an aggravated assault that morning, where they said Alvarenga was allegedly holding a woman against her will. When the woman broke free, Alvarenga, a correctional officer with the Utah Dept. of Corrections and member of the Utah National Guard, reportedly began chasing her.
Officers pursued Alvarenga into Jordan Landing, but due to safety concerns, officers ended their pursuit. When police located him a second time, another pursuit began, which was reportedly also halted due to safety concerns.
While police continued to search for Alvarenga, they learned that he was able to contact family members of the woman he was holding against her will. Alvarenga threatened those family members with a weapon, police said.
Detectives were then able to contact Alvarenga and began negotiating with him by phone while keeping him under surveillance.
A third pursuit ensued, which ended in South Jordan at 11400 South and Redwood Road. When Alvarenga’s tires were spiked, he fled the scene with a gun. During the pursuit, Alvarenga shot at officers, killing Maya, a K-9 with the West Jordan Police Department.
Police said a total of eight officers fired at Alvarenga, striking and killing him at the scene. All of those officers were placed on administrative leave.
Maya was hailed as a hero for saving officers’ lives during the incident. Police said as Alvarenga began shooting, Maya blocked the shots from hitting other officers.
Four of those officers were from the West Jordan Police Department, two officers were from the South Jordan Police Department, and two officers were from the Unified Police Department, a press release stated.
The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office released the following statement on the incident:
After conducting an Officer Involved Critical Incident (OICI) review, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office has declined to file criminal charges for the February 17, 2022 use of deadly force by West Jordan Police Department, South Jordan Police Department, and Unified Police Department Officers.
The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, operating pursuant to an agreement with participating law enforcement agencies and consistent with established protocols and applicable laws, conducts independent reviews of officer involved critical incidents, including police officers’ use of deadly force used in the scope of police officers’ official duties.
Alvarenga reportedly joined the Utah National Guard in 2019 and was a parachute rigger assigned to Alpha Company, Group Support Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group.