SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said the Salt Lake City officers involved in a shooting that killed an Idaho man suspected of carjacking in March 2022 were justified in their use of force.
During a press conference with Gill presenting body cam footage of the incident, police described the suspect, identified as Matthew Cieslak, 38, “knew what he was doing” while firing toward police.
On March 26, 2022, Cieslak allegedly attempted to carjack one vehicle before successfully carjacking another near the area of 220 South Orange Street in Salt Lake City. Gill showed a witness video of Cieslak forcibly removing two people from their car at gunpoint before police arrived on the scene.
Body cam footage shows shots being fired between Cieslak and responding officers almost immediately after the officer stepped out of his car. After a brief shootout, including a moment where Cieslak could be seen running towards officers, Cieslak can be seen lying in the field. Gill said officers were hesitant to approach with the gun still in his reach.
Gill said his team had been in contact with Cieslak’s family though they have reportedly not yet met.
“This is a tragic loss,” said Gill. “This is a veteran who had done four tours of duty, who was coming from Idaho to Utah with an appointment towards getting help with the VA.”
Gill said Cieslak’s family claims this wasn’t usual behavior for him. Gill confirmed Cieslak didn’t have any previous history that the District Attorney’s office was aware of. Through their investigation, the District Attorney’s office believes Cieslak was suffering from a mental health episode at the time.
“It highlights and underscores what a real thing this is for our veterans who are coming back,” said Gill. Gill said one tour of duty increases the likelihood of post-traumatic stress disorder by 25%. He said it wasn’t only a tragic loss for Ceislak’s family, but it was a tragic moment for the officers who were simply doing their jobs protecting the community.
Gill reported the officers are doing fine, though he had not personally spoken to them.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the suicide prevention hotline at 988. National Alliance on Mental Illness Utah: namiut.org