WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah, Aug. 6, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake County Attorney Sim Gill announced Friday a West Valley City PD officer who shot a man wielding a crowbar on May 10 was justified in the use of deadly force, although the suspect survived the shooting.
The incident happened in the area of 4780 Huntington St. and was investigated by Unified Police Department as an external agency, protocol in Utah officer-involved critical incidents.
The suspect, Danny James Clark, sustained non life-threatening injuries, according to Gill.
Out of a total of five shots fired, two of them hit Clark, Gill said.
Officers first encountered Clark, 25, about 1:30 a.m. where residents of Huntington Street had reported a man smashing windows and trying to get into a house, carrying “large stick or a cane,” according to police.
Two West Valley City patrolmen, Officer Kurtis Braley and Officer Mogenson, as well a civilian ride-along, were among the first to arrive on scene the night of the shooting, investigators reported.
Officers made contact with Clark, who was spotted standing in the driveway of a home holding a “large, metal, yellow, crowbar” and told him to drop it. Clark refused, poliice said..
“Mr. Clark grabbed the crowbar with both hands across his chest and refused, saying ‘no,'” Gill said. Officers continued to urge him to drop the crowbar. Clark continued to say no then demanded car keys from the officers, saying that somebody was going to ‘get it,'” Gill said.
Braley then asked over the radio to expedite all units. Another officer then joined the others at the base of the driveway with his Taser drawn.
Video from three different body cameras recorded officers as they repeatedly ordered Clark to drop the crowbar.
A defiant Clark refused and can be heard telling officers, “Alright, here I come!”
Lifting the crowbar above his head, Clark can be seen in body-worn camera video advancing toward officers.
Braley and Morgenson then drew and pointed their firearms at Clark as they backed up.
Clark advanced on Morgenson with the crowbar raised, Gill said.
“You’re going to stay back! Drop it! Drop it!” Braley yelled, continuing to back up.
The officer with the Taser deployed it twice, but it appeared to have no effect.
Clark then ran eastbound, chasing Morgenson in the street. Braley and the officer with the Taser ran after them, and the Taser was deployed again.
“Mr. Clark suddenly turned back and charged at Officer Braley, still holding the crowbar raised like a baseball bat,” Gill said. “Officer Braley raised his weapon as he yelled ‘drop it right now or I’ll f—ing shoot you.”
As he was finishing his statement, Braley fired his handgun five times at Clark, who was still charging at him with the crowbar.
Clark dropped the crowbar and fell to the ground.
Officers moved in and handcuffed Clark before examining him for bullet wounds.
Clark was transported to Intermountain Medical Center in Murray. He sustained a gunshot wound to the lower abdomen and to his right elbow.
The suspect was ultimately released from the hospital and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on charges of aggravated burglary, a first-degree felony and two second-degree felony counts of assault on a police officer.
The Unified Police Department’s Protocol Team Two took over the investigation into the officer-involved critical incident, while a parallel criminal investigation was conducted into the original call by WVCPD.
Braley declined to provide a statement for the officer-involved shooting investigation conducted by the district attorney’s office.
Gill concluded: “It is our conclusion that we refuse to file charges because the affirmative defense of justification would be available to Officer Braley, who articulated a reasonable concern for his safety and the safety of others.”
Gephardt Daily will update the story as more information becomes available.