SANDY, Utah, Sept. 19, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office has determined that an officer-involved shooting involving an Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent in March was legally justified.
The decision on the March 13 use of deadly force by Resident Agent in Charge Brian Embley was arrived at after Officer Involved Critical Incident reviews were conducted, said a news release from the DA’s office. The DA will not file criminal charges against Embley.
Sandy Police Department Lt. Dean Carriger told Gephardt Daily at the time that the shooting occurred in the area of 180 E. 8960 South shortly before 5 p.m.
“The ATF task force, which is comprised of ATF agents and local law enforcement agents, were tracking an individual to serve a federal arrest warrant,” Carriger said. “They tracked that individual to this location, he was mobile in a vehicle at the time they contacted him. When contact was made, they saw some actions of the suspect, shots were fired by the officers that served that warrant, and the suspect was struck by rounds from the officers.”
Bryan Liles, 31, was transported to Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, where he later died.
The Unified Police Department investigated the incident pursuant to Salt Lake County OICI Protocol. It was subsequently found that Embley fired his Glock Model 22, caliber .40 S&W four times.
A letter from the DA’s office to Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera describes the incident as follows: When Mr. Liles saw the police officers, he got into a car. Officers ordered Mr. Liles to stop and get out of the car but he did not. Instead, he started to drive away and turned the car, endangering nearby police officers. Agent Embley fired at Mr. Liles, hitting him. Mr. Liles continued to drive away with police officers following closely on foot. Mr. Liles stopped the car, looked at Agent Embley and reached down with both hands as though he were searching for something. Agent Embley fired at Mr. Liles again, hitting him. Officers extracted Mr. Liles from the car and medical personnel transported him to the hospital where he was pronounced dead from the gunshot injuries he sustained.
Agent Embley’s testimony is also included in the letter; he describes what happened when he was on scene with another agent, Agent W. Newell.
The letter reads: Agent Embley said he saw the BMW start driving away fast; Agent Embley said he believed he was going to be hit by the BMW and run over. Agent Embley said he also believed Agent Newell was going to be dragged or pinned between the BMW and Agent Newell’s nearby car.
Agent Embley said he made a “very split-second decision, where this guy was coming at me and I realized I was going to be taken out or pushed into Newell’s car, and [Agent Newell] would probably be dragged if he stayed in the vehicle or tugged with this individual.” Agent Embley said he made the decision to fire his gun at the driver because he feared he was going to be killed and/or Agent Newell was going to be killed. Agent Embley said he fired three rounds at the driver. Agent Embley said the car passed by him and Agent Newell freed himself from the car.
The testimony goes on: Agent Embley said he saw the driver bending over and reaching down while he was looking directly at Agent Embley. Agent Embley said he asked himself: “if the driver’s goal was to flee, why did he stop and not continue his escape; if the driver can talk in a heated conversation, why isn’t he complying? And what is the driver reaching for on the floor, while keeping eye contact with me?” Agent Embley said he made another split-second decision to fire more rounds at the driver. Agent Embley said he believed the driver was going to obtain a weapon from somewhere inside the car and kill him and the other officers, Agent Embley said he feared that he was about to be killed when he made his decision to fire the second shots.
A witness who was inside the BMW, identified as S.C., also told investigators that she and Liles got into an argument about the car, before the incident with the ATF agents, which turned into a fight. The letter states: S. C. said Mr. Liles hit her in the mouth and on the chin with his closed fist. S. C. said Mr. Liles then pulled out a handgun, pointed it at S. C.’s face, and told S. C. not to talk to him like that or he would kill her.
Protocol investigators recovered a Jiminez Arms brand 9 mm handgun from the BMW’s driver’s side floorboard. Investigators determined the weapon was listed as stolen from a Taylorsville address.
None of the police officers were wearing body-worn cameras during the incident.