UTA Police officer assaulted in ‘melee’ in Salt Lake City; officers from multiple agencies respond to scene

Photo: Gephardt Daily/Courtesy T. Pulley

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 14, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Police from multiple agencies responded to downtown Salt Lake City Sunday evening when a UTA Police officer who was being assaulted called for help on his radio.

The UTA officer was in the area of the 300 South block of Main Street after a report that a vehicle had hit a catenary pole, a pole used to connect Utah Transit Authority’s TRAX trains to their source of power.

UTA spokesman Carl Arky told Gephardt Daily at 7:30 p.m. that the people in the car were uninjured.

But while the officer was on scene, people alerted him to an altercation taking place across the street. Although the altercation was not on UTA property, the officer decided to see if he could help by intervening, Arky said.

“They did not want his intervention, and the altercation escalated, and they started to assault the officer.”

Arky said multiple people were assaulting the officer, which is why he put out a call for police assistance.

“It was a melee. It was a brawl,” Arky said of the assault.

Salt Lake City Police Lt. Andrew Cluff said the 10-33 emergency call came in at about 7:30 p.m., and officer were on the scene quickly. Four people were involved in the altercation, and some or all of them were intoxicated, Cluff said.

“Two were the main instigators, and the UTA officer tried to break that up and was assaulted by one of the males,” Cluff said.

One man, 30-year-old James Morrisey, was taken into custody and will be booked on charges including assault of a police officer, two simple assaults for attacking bystanders who tried to help the UTA officer, interfering with an arrest, and intoxication, Cluff said.

When officers attempted to arrest Morrisey, Cluff said, one of the two women in the group tried to stop the arrest. Taylor Smith, 29, will be booked for assault, interference with an arresting officer, and public intoxication, the lieutenant said.

Charges are being considered for the other woman in the group and, if filed, would include interference, police said. The other man, with whom Morrisey had been fighting, did not assault any officers and just stood by, watching the arrest of the main male aggressor, Cluff said.

The UTA officer suffered minor injuries from being punched and kicked, according to Cluff. He was treated at the scene.

Arky said TRAX trains in the area were stopped temporarily due to the damage to the catenary pole, but full service has since been restored, although trains are traveling at slower speeds than usual.


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