HOLLADAY, Utah, May 20, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced Thursday morning the officer-involved shooting of an allegedly suicidal man in Holladay last August has been ruled justified.
Matthew Hilbelink, 39, was critically injured in the shooting Aug. 8, 2020, and passed away Aug. 11.
Unified Police officers were dispatched on a call of a suicidal man with a gun at about 12:15 p.m., Gill said.
Officers from the Millcreek and Holladay precincts were also dispatched to the scene, a parking structure at 3210 E. 6200 South.
Gill said the suspect had a pistol in his right hand. Two officers positioned themselves on a hill behind the parking lot, and one of these then moved to behind a half-wall at the edge of the parking lot. Others moved a police truck into the parking lot. Three officers then took cover behind the truck. It was one of these officers, Unified Police Department Officer Dave Jaroscak, who fired the shots.
The officers tried to talk with Hilbelink for approximately 24 minutes, Gill said, trying to convince him to put his weapon down and talk to them.
“Instead he kept the weapon in his right hand throughout the incident,” Gill said. He added his finger was on the trigger “throughout most of the incident” and “at times Mr. Hilbelink pointed the weapon in the direction of the officer that stood behind a half-wall at the edge of the parking lot.” Hilbelink also pointed the weapon in the direction of officers behind the truck.
Hilbelink at one point put the muzzle of the weapon in his mouth, then withdrew it.
“Officers later testified that they saw Mr. Hilbelink’s expression change and he had what one officer called a thousand-yard stare,” Gill said.
At 1:13 p.m., Hilbelink raised the gun and it appeared to other officers that he was aiming it at the officer’s face, head and upper body that was exposed behind the half-wall.
Jaroscak then shot Hilbelink; he sustained a gunshot wound to the head and medical assistance was rendered at the scene. He was then transported in critical condition to the hospital, where he died three days later.
Jaroscak refused to be interviewed but did provide a written statement. Other officers also provided statements. Several officers were equipped with body-worn cameras that were active at the time of the incident, the statement said.
The District Attorney found Jaroscak’s use of deadly force justified as he protected himself and another officer. “He reasonably believed deadly force was necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury,” Gill said.
Gephardt Daily will have more on this story as information is made available.