MAGNA, Utah, Oct. 24, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — The Salt Lake County District Attorney has found the use of deadly force in April by a Unified Police Department officer was legally justified.
District Attorney Sim Gill released a statement on Wednesday.
“After conducting an Officer Involved Critical Incident (OICI) review, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office will not file charges in connection with the April 17, 2018 use of deadly force by an Unified Police Department Officer.”
Salt Lake City Police Department investigated the incident as required by protocol.
Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera told Gephardt Daily at the time the deadly chain of events began at approximately 3 a.m. when Valley Emergency Communications Center (VECC) received a 911 call from an agitated male, later identified as 41-year-old Lonnie Marcel Bowen of Salt Lake City.
A news release from the Unified Police Department at the time said the caller stated: “Tell your officers to back off, or I will shove this knife through her throat.” The man on the line also requested to speak to a hostage negotiator. VECC transferred the call to the UPD Dispatch Center.
“UPD Millcreek officers were dispatched to the area of 3698 S. 900 East, the location of the phone ping,” the news release said. “Officers did not notice anything out of the ordinary, other than a truck leaving the area. Officers were able to get the license plate of the truck before it left.”
At approximately 4 a.m., UPD received information that the West Valley City Police Department was in pursuit of the same truck that was observed leaving Millcreek. The pursuit started at 5600 W. 3100 South, continued west through West Valley and into Magna. During the pursuit through Magna, WVCPD officers deployed tire spikes to disable the truck and it eventually came to a stop at 2750 S. 8400 West.
The letter from the District Attorney’s Office to Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown and Rivera said: “Officers approached the truck and observed a man, later identified as Lonnie Marcel Bowen, holding a knife to the throat of a woman we refer to as N.N.
“WVCPD Officer Barrett heard Mr. Bowen threaten to kill the woman he was holding hostage. Officer Barrett relayed the information to officers on scene. WVCPD Officer Pepper and UPD Officer Trever McLelland approached the truck and ordered the man: ‘Let her go! Let her go!’ but he did not comply, Officer McLelland fired five rounds at Mr. Bowen, killing him.”
The woman in the truck, identified as N.N., also described the incident: “N.N. said that when the truck stopped, Mr. Bowen pulled her close to him. N.N. said she put her hands up to defend herself and begged Mr. Bowen: ‘Please don’t do this, just get out.’ N.N. said Mr. Bowen refused to leave the truck. N.N. said the police were around the truck. N.N. said Mr. Bowen yelled to the police: ‘This is a hostage situation, I’ll kill her.’ N.N. said as Mr. Bowen yelled this, he pressed the knife tighter on her neck, N.N. said Mr. Bowen told her; ‘You’re going to cover me,’ N. N. said a police car pushed the front of the truck and ‘then the glass came [in] and I screamed.’ N. N. said a police officer told her to get out and she did.”
Protocol investigators reviewed WVCPD officers’ body worn camera recordings. Pepper’s body worn camera recording captured a knife in Bowen’s right hand after he was shot by McLelland, who was not wearing a body camera at the time of the shooting.
After reviewing statements from witnesses, the DA’s office determined that the officer’s use of deadly force was justified, because the officer likely was operating under the belief that shooting Bowen was necessary to prevent the death or serious bodily harm of Bowen’s ex-girlfriend.
Before the shooting in April, on a Facebook page titled Lonnie Natalie Bowen, a man who UPD spokesman Lt. Brian Lohrke said officials “believe” is the same person, posted a 4-minute-35-second video.
In the video, which has since been removed, the man states: “The Salt Lake PD are killers, and they responsible for anything that happens to me, death wise. They want to kill me. Why cos, I don’t know, that’s just the way they do shit. And I’m ready … I’m not hostile in any kind of manner, I’m not armed, or anything. They’re going to make my death look like a drug deal gone bad, or gang violence, or something like that, but that’s not the case, the case is they want me dead, for whatever reason they want me dead.”
He also posted other videos with similar sentiments.
Lohrke said at the time those videos have been forwarded to the SLCPD.
Gephardt Daily will provide more information as it becomes available.