SWAT sniper, spotter’s body-cameras did not capture police shooting in Farmington

Police cordon off a Farmington neighborhood crime scene in the aftermath of officer-involved shooting Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Steve Milner

FARMINGTON, Utah, Sept. 24, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Officials said Friday that a SWAT sniper and his spotter’s body-cameras did not capture a police shooting in Farmington earlier this month.

Fugitive Joseph Manhard, 32, was shot by the sniper after he broke into a Farmington home Sept. 10 and held five people hostage.

Police say Manhard fled from police as they responded to reports of an assault near the Freeport Center in Clearfield about 1:30 a.m.

According to Clearfield Assistant Police Chief Devin Rogers, Manhard fled the scene before ditching the car he was driving in the vicinity of 34th and Center Street. He then reportedly carjacked a woman’s vehicle, with at least one shot being fired. There were no reports of injuries.

Rogers said Manhard continued to flee, ramming a police vehicle before officers managed to spike his tires. Manhard then ditched the carjacked vehicle on I-15 and was seen in the area of 1700 South Frontage Road in Farmington, according to a police statement.

Police from surrounding agencies began containment efforts while the DPS helicopter was called in to help with the search. K-9 units were also deployed as cops combed the nearby neighborhood.

SWAT teams and a sniper team were called in to assist with the situation, and after attempts to negotiate with Manhard inside the home in 1600 South block of Tuscany Grove Court, shots were fired and the suspect was fatally injured. The five hostages were not injured.

The news release from SLCPD Friday says: “At approximately 05:50 a.m. on Sept. 10,  SLCPD SWAT received a request from the Davis County Sheriff’s Office pursuant to an existing mutual aid agreement.”

It was a SLCPD SWAT officer that used deadly force during the agency assist call, the news release said.

“This officer-involved critical incident is unique in that it involved an SLCPD sniper operator,” the news release said. “Being a sniper operator is among one of the most challenging positions in our department. Sniper operators are generally the least used resource in our department, but they are some of the most highly trained members in our department.”

Sniper operators are trained to shoot from the steadiest-most position, the news release said. This often means they are in a “prone position,” which requires them to have most of their body in contact with the ground.

“Unlike patrol officers or other SWAT operators who are in an upright position, sniper operators cannot wear their body-worn cameras on the front of their bodies,” the news release said. “Doing so would result in uneven body pressure while in the prone position and would likely affect their readiness and accuracy. A sniper operator wearing their BWC on the front of their body while in the prone position would result in the BWC lens and microphone being obscured. Sniper operators are often several yards away from the threat.

“Our current BWC are incapable of producing images beyond the immediate periphery of any officer’s body. Further, there is no known technology that would allow a configuration that allows recording of the sniper operator’s rifle scope. As such, our sniper operators and their spotters are instructed to use one camera between them and to set up the BWC in a position that best reflects the situation they are in.”

In this incident, there is no body-worn camera footage from either the sniper operator or the spotter that captured the moments immediately leading up to the use of deadly force or the actual use of deadly force. “Based on the review, training and experience of Police Chief Mike Brown, it appears the partnered officers likely believed they were turning off their shared body-worn camera when instead they were activating it after the shooting,” the news release said.

Because there is no body-worn camera footage or SLC911 dispatch information, the SLCPD is unable to provide an account of the involved officer’s actions, the news release said. The SLCPD is not privy to any statement made by witnesses, victims or the involved officer as these are part of the Davis County OICI Protocol Team investigation.

Police arrive on the scene of hostage standoff in Farmington Friday Sept 10 2021 Photo Gephardt DailySteve Milner


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