CEDAR CITY, Utah, April 2, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — An officer-involved shooting in Cedar City on Feb. 14 has been ruled justified, it was announced Friday.
Cedar City Police Chief Darin Adams, in conjunction with Garfield County Attorney Barry Huntington and Iron County Attorney Chad Dotson, held a press conference Friday at 10 a.m.
Huntington told assembled reporters all four officers who discharged their weapons cooperated with the investigation. The actions of all four officers were found justified, Huntington said. “They acted in the most reasonable manner they could after less lethal options were exhausted,” he said.
The event began as an aggravated assault with a knife in the 3000 North block of 125 East in Cedar City on Feb. 14 at approximately 8 p.m., Adams said. The officer-involved shooting location was in the 2400 North block of 400 West in Cedar City.
The suspect has been identified as Larry Joseph Lee Tessier, 36. Tessier has now been charged with three felony counts of aggravated assault, felony fleeing and two counts of felony criminal mischief, Adams said. Tessier is being held without bail in Iron County Jail.
“It was reported that a male, later identified as Mr. Tessier, showed up and assaulted a resident with a knife, then fled in a vehicle,” Adams said. A 39-year-old male victim was injured in the assault.
Two Cedar City police officers, Cpl. Zach Adams and Officer Orlas DeMasters, located the suspect vehicle in the area of 2400 North Main St., Adams said. The two conducted a traffic stop, Adams said. Officers were talking with Tessier when he fled from the traffic stop, and officers began a pursuit. DeMasters requested to conduct a pit maneuver.
“As Officer DeMasters attempted to get in position to initiate the PIT, Mr. Tessier suddenly swerved at Officer DeMasters, striking Officer DeMasters’ vehicle,” Adams said.
Tessier then “drove through neighborhoods recklessly, drove up on sidewalks, and drove toward other police vehicles,” Adams said.
The pursuit continued back in the direction of the original assault call.
Iron County Sheriff’s Office and Enoch City Police Department responded to assist with the pursuit as well. During the pursuit, the suspect vehicle was spiked but continued to flee from law enforcement.
Another PIT maneuver was performed, which spun Tessier’s vehicle.
“He quickly accelerated and collided head-on with Officer Tyrell Crofts,” Adams said.
All officers then exited their vehicles, issuing commands for Tessier. Tessier refused to comply, revved his engine, shifted his vehicle into reverse, then accelerated backwards striking a deputy’s vehicle and going through a fence.
His vehicle was then pointing directly at officers, Adams said.
“Mr. Tessier refused to follow commands and continued to rev his engine, shifted into drive and began driving directly toward Cpl. Zach Adams and Officer Heather Daynes,” Adams said.
Almost simultaneously, Adams, DeMasters, Daynes and Crofts all opened fire. Tessier was struck several times. Another officer drove into Tessier’s vehicle in order to disable it.
Officers on scene began life-saving treatment; Tessier was transported to Cedar City Hospital and later flown to Dixie Regional Medical Center for further treatment of his injuries.
At the press conference, dash-cam footage was shown of the initial traffic stop, which also showed the suspect fleeing from officers. After Tessier’s vehicle was disabled, officers can be heard in the video shouting commands. Body-cam video from a fifth officer was also shown, which shows the four discharging their weapons.
In keeping with standard protocol, all four officers were placed on paid administrative leave, and are now back to full time duty.
This incident was investigated by the Iron/Beaver/Garfield Counties Critical Incident Task Force.