What’s the process following an officer-involved critical incident in Salt Lake County?

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – As friends, and family of Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal anxiously await the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s decision on the deadly use of force from Salt Lake City Police that ended his life, ABC4 News looks into process and procedures following an officer-involved critical incident like this one. 

Following an officer-involved critical incident, an outside agency is called in to investigate. According to the Salt Lake County District Attorney, one of its investigators are also sent in for support.

When the investigation is complete, everything is turned over to the DA.

“We just don’t take their words. We start going through it and then we sometimes will identify that this is missing or that is missing, and we gather that information and then go through our analysis,” Sim Gill, the Salt Lake County District Attorney, told ABC4 News.

In the first part of this report which aired Monday night, we explained a Utah law that permits an officer to use lethal force in certain circumstances.

“And that keeps you from being prosecuted because the law says you can use it legally,” explained Gill.

The District Attorney says his job is to apply the state law to his team’s two-step analysis.

“We go through the first analysis to see does it fit in that. And if it fits in that, we rule it to be justified. And then if it doesn’t fit into that, we’ll say it’s unjustified. And then we do a secondary analysis to see, if it’s not justified, is it chargeable. And at that point, we look to see, what is the evidence that we have? What is our burden of proof that we have to go through? And what can we marshal out as evidence, and then we would file charges on that.”

For charges to be filed, the DA says he looks to see if the law was violated.

Utah law on officer-involved shootings

“Is there a law that’s been violated? Do we have the quantity and quality of evidence that establishes that this person did it, and is it admissible, and there’s a reasonable likelihood of success at trial?”

Gill says the process can be long, detailed, and arduous, but adds, the analytical process is needed to be objective and transparent. 

“I don’t have any new resources for this, right? This is something that we have done because we felt that our community needed a discount of a process to be able to be sharing this information with them,” he told ABC4’s, Brittany Johnson. “We’ve taken this other additional responsibility on because we know it’s a value to our community.”

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Brittany Johnson
Brittany prides herself on seeking the truth about everyday issues in the community and providing citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions.

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