D.A. says Unified Police officer-involved shooting not justified

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill is seen at an August 2016 press conference. On Monday, March 13, 2017, his office announced that it would not file criminal charges in an Oct. 5, 2016, officer-involved shooting, but that it could not conclude the shooting was justified. The UPD will now conduct an internal investigation of the incident involving Detective Cordell Whitmore. Photo: YouTube screen shot

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah, March 13, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday that an officer-involved shooting in Kearns on Oct.5 2016, has not been determined to be legally justified.

The D.A.’s office, however, is not filing criminal charges against the officer, Unified Police Department Detective Cordell Whitmore.

In an Oct. 7 press conference, Unified Police identified both the officer and Damian Huth, 20, the individual who was shot.

Officers were looking for Huth because he had outstanding warrants for aggravated assault and various drug offenses. During the arrest of Huth, his wife Kelli Huth, 18, attacked one of the arresting officers, allowing Damian Huth to flee on foot. During the foot pursuit, Damian Huth was shot once in the shoulder.

As outlined in a letter from District Attorney Sim Gill to Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder and Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown, the shooting occurred when Whitmore chased Damian Huth through a field and Huth tried to climb over a fence. Whitmore fell backwards as he tried to pull Huth off the fence.

The letter states, “As he was on the ground, Det. Whitmore said he heard a gunshot. Det. Whitmore said he looked up and saw his handgun in his left hand pointed in Mr. Huth’s direction. Det. Whitmore said he realized he had fired his weapon. Mr. Huth was injured by a single gunshot wound to his shoulder; Mr. Huth was treated at the hospital and survived his injury.”

An Officer Involved Critical Incident review was conducted by Gill’s office as part of the investigation as required by state law. It couldn’t be concluded that the shooting was justified, the letter states, but the D.A. declined to file criminal charges.

A news release from the Unified Police Department on Monday states:

“Salt Lake County (SLCO) Sheriff Jim Winder has received SLCO District Attorney Sim Gill’s criminal investigation ruling of Officer Cordell Whitmore. Now that the criminal investigation is complete, and no criminal charges will be pursued, the Unified Police Department has begun an internal investigation of the Officer Involved Critical Incident (OICI) that took place October 5, 2016 in Kearns, Utah. An internal investigation includes a review of policy violation(s) that may or may not have occurred during an OICI.”

Winder is not expected to make any further comment on the matter while the investigation is ongoing.

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