19G61415 OIS Press Conference
Posted by Ogden Police UT on Friday, August 16, 2019
OGDEN, Utah, Aug. 17, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Police Chief Randy Watt has shared details on the officer-involved shooting Friday night, which left one man dead and four Ogden Police officers on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation on their use of deadly force.
Police were called to the area of 32nd Street and Gramercy at about 8:55 p.m. Friday on a report of a disoriented man approaching residents with a knife. The callers were having a yard party and felt threatened by the armed man.
“He seemed disoriented, and they considered him to be a safety concern,” Watt told reporters a few hours after the incident. “Four officers in three cars went to the scene.
“The suspect had moved to a carport nearby, and the witnesses flagged down the officers and pointed that out. The officers get out of their vehicles, and they approached. They identified the individual standing there, and he was holding a knife.”
Watt said officers ordered the man multiple times to drop the knife.
“He did not do so, and he began advancing on the officers,” the chief said. “They ordered him repeatedly to stop and to drop the knife. He did not do so. All four officers fired their service pistols. The suspect went down there, near the sidewalk, coming out of the carport. Medical was called to the scene and he was declared deceased right there.”
Watt: Officers ‘forced to do what they did’
Watt said the officers could not have retreated further than they did, but did not elaborate on what was blocking them.
“There was distance, but not enough for the officers to retreat any further than they did, and they were forced to take the actions they did. He was advancing on the officers, holding a knife in a threatening manner.”
Watt said he feels bad for the dead man’s relatives.
“Our heart goes out to the family. These are tragic events. But we’re also glad the officers were not injured. It’s unfortunate they were forced to do what they did. To be put in that position — no officer wants to do that. The taking of life is a pretty serious situation. But unfortunately, they were forced to do it. The results are what they are.”
Watt said the caller did the right thing, calling in officers, and officers are grateful for the cooperation of witnesses on the scene.
“The Weber County critical incident response has been called out to conduct their investigation of used force,” Watt said at the overnight news conference. “Our internal affairs investigation is underway. The officers — standard stuff — have been placed on administrative leave until the investigation is completed, and then they’ll be returned to work.”
Asked whether the officers were wearing body cams, Watt said all were, and the video was being processed, “and will be reviewed as part of the investigation.
“We’re not announcing any identification on the individual. That will be released at a later time. And we’re not releasing any camera video right now.”
Watt said all four officers who were at the scene are patrol officers, adding that “one of them is a probationer who is accompanied by a field training officer.”
Now five on leave
The Ogden Police Department already had one officer on administrative leave after an officer-involved critical incident weeks earlier, on July 31. An Ogden Police officer responding to assist Roy police after a maintenance worker at Roy’s Tanner Clinic called, saying she was barricaded in one of the clinic’s rooms, and feared a burglar would find her.
The suspect, Donald Lee Joseph, 37, of Clearfield, was shot and killed after he came at the officer with a knife, Watt said at the time. Joseph died shortly later at a nearby hospital.
“As of tonight, we’ll have five on administrative leave,” Watt said at the overnight news conference. “It has an impact (on the force), but we cover it with overtime shifts and we bring people in to do that.
“We’re expecting that the first one, from three weeks ago, roughly three weeks ago, will soon be concluded and the officer will return to duty.”
Gephardt Daily will provide more details as information becomes available.