SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Aug. 21, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill on Friday said he will not file charges in a non-fatal officer-involved shooting that happened Jan. 8 this year.
Cleared from prosecution in the officer-involved shooting was Salt Lake City Police Officer Jordan Winegar. Gill also declined to prosecute Winegar in the 2016 officer-involved shooting of 17-year-old Abdullahi “Abdi” Omar Mohamed in S.L.C.’s blighted Rio Grande area.
The victim, Tyler Webster, was hit by two bullets, and did not die as a result of his injuries. Gill spoke about the Jan. 8 shooting at a news conference on Friday, and showed body camera videos recorded by Winegar.
Gill said Winegar and SLCPD officer-in-training Stephen Hunter were in the area when dispatch sent out an attempt-to-locate call for a stolen, red Ford Mustang.
Winegar and Hunter spotted a car matching the stolen car’s description and attempted a traffic stop. The suspect, Webster, tried to back away from the officers, and leave the area, Gill said.
The officers tried to block the Mustang in place, then approached the car, Gill said while showing the videos. They approached the car, and Winegar opened the passenger door and fired a Taser, which did not attach properly to Webster and had no effect.
Webster then backed the car toward a guardrail, which at first trapped Winegar behind the still-open door and the shrinking space before the guardrail. Winegar was able to get on the front side of the open door.
Gill said that, in an interview, Winegar said he believed his life was threatened, so he fired his gun to stop Webster from driving the car, which was later confirmed to be the stolen vehicle police were looking for.
Gill said he would decline to press charges against Winegar in the case due to the evidence supporting his claim.
Winegar was one of two SLCPD officers put on administrative leave after the shooting and critical injury of Mohamed in the downtown Rio Grande area of Salt Lake City on Feb. 27, 2016.
Mohamed, then 17, was holding a broomstick handle and was reportedly involved in an altercation with an adult male. Officers told Mohamed to drop the weapon, which he continued to grasp while taking one or more steps in the officers’ direction.
After the shooting, officers were pelted with stones and garbage by bystanders, and more than 100 police officers from various agencies arrived to suppress what has been characterized as a riot.
In the Mohamed case, Gill declined to press charges against either officer, who said they felt their lives were threatened.
A Civilian Review Board in that case ruled that the officers’ actions did not fall within the police policy, which states that “deadly force shall only be exercised when all other reasonable alternatives have been exhausted or appear impractical.”
The Civilian Review Board’s judgement was non-binding, and had no effect on Gill’s findings.