LEHI A history of violence surrounding a former Lehi police officer culminated Friday when his ex-wife's boyfriend was shot twice after a high-speed car chase through city streets, police and witnesses say.
Art Henderson, 38, had lost his wife to divorce last year after she alleged he held a gun to her head and threatened to kill her in front of her parents' house, the same spot where Friday's incident culminated.
He lost his job with the Lehi Police Department in July 2004 after he was charged with assault over an altercation with a man who knew his ex-wife. A conviction in that case put his policing future in jeopardy the Utah Peace Officers Standards and Training Academy (POST) held a review hearing Jan. 20 and a decision on the status of his certification was pending Friday.
Henderson was due in court Monday for a hearing for a new trial in the assault case. Utah County Attorney Kay Bryson said Henderson faces yet another possible charge from a previous altercation with the man police say Henderson shot Friday.
Police say Henderson used a handgun to shoot Craig Trimble, 35, and to shoot at his ex-wife, Natalie Barnes Henderson. Then, they say, he used a rifle to shoot at former friend and police colleague Alma Owens and other Lehi police officers near 950 W. 1500 North.
Two officers shot Henderson in the leg, Lehi Police Sgt. Darren Paul said. None of the injuries were life threatening.
An Air Med helicopter transported Trimble to a Salt Lake hospital with two gunshot wounds. An ambulance took Henderson to American Fork Hospital.
Natalie Henderson, 37, was uninjured.
Paul said police haven't ruled out the possibility Henderson was attempting to commit suicide via a police shootout.
"It looks that way," Paul said. "I'd be speculating, but it sure has the elements of suicide by cop."Police did not attempt to spare Henderson, he added, saying the shots in the leg instead of his chest are accounted for by the distance of the shots, which were about a half a block.
Paul said police expected to transfer Henderson Friday night to the Utah County Jail for investigation of aggravated attempted murder. He is expected to appear in court Monday for a bail hearing.
The incident began shortly before 9:30 a.m. at Natalie Henderson's home near where the car chase ended. Police say Trimble and Natalie Henderson fled in a Chrysler Sebring and Art Henderson followed them in a Toyota pickup truck.
Trimble called 911 during the chase and identified Henderson, according to police. The chase ended when Trimble pulled up in front of the home of his girlfriend's parents, where Henderson rammed his pickup into the Sebring, police say.
Henderson approached his ex-wife and Trimble on foot and shot Trimble while he was still sitting in the driver's seat of the Sebring, Paul said. The bullet entered Trimble's abdomen and traveled downward, exiting his leg.
Henderson shot Trimble a second time, striking him in the leg as the couple ran into her parents' house, Paul said.
In court documents seeking a protective order in February 2005, Natalie Henderson described 14 years of domestic violence.
She said that in October 2004, she was on the telephone when Henderson entered, grabbed the phone from her and ripped the phone out of the jack, according to court documents.
He "started grabbing me and I tried to run and he grabbed me and put my head through the wall," she wrote. "I yelled for some help."
She said Art Henderson grabbed a box of bullets and threw them at her head.
"Bullets went everywhere," she added.
Art Henderson then allegedly threatened to kill her. Their 16-year-old son jumped on his father's back and held him back. Another son yelled at his father to stop.
"I ended up with bumps on my head and bruises on my arms," she wrote.
Another incident in June 2004: "Art was in the living room talking to his girlfriend. . . . I was upset and asked to talk to his girlfriend. Art turned around and kicked my left leg right above my knee."
Natalie Henderson dropped to the floor. She thought her leg was broken, she wrote. She went to a doctor's office a week later. It was bruised to the bone, according to court documents.
In December 2003 during an argument in their bedroom, according to Natalie Henderson, Art Henderson held a gun to her head and threatened to kill her.
"I went to my knees on the closet floor and begged him not to shoot me," she wrote. "He then threw the gun down."
In August 2002, Art Henderson allegedly pulled out a gun, held it to Natalie's head and drove her to her parents' house.
"He told me he was going to kill me right in front of my parents' house," she wrote. "Art has made many other threats . . . so many I couldn't possibly remember them all. This has been going on for 14 years."
A judge granted the protective order, but two days later she requested it be dismissed because the divorce "would go smoother" and because she didn't believe she was in any danger. Fourth District Court Judge James R. Taylor refused.
"It is simply incredible that 14 years of that kind of abuse can be resolved in less than 72 hours," he wrote in documents denying her request.
The allegations of violence extended beyond Art Henderson's family.
In March, Henderson was convicted by a Utah County Justice Court jury of a class B misdemeanor of simple assault for an altercation in June 2004 with another man. He was sentenced to pay a $957 fine. The altercation led then-Lehi Police Chief Chad Smith to fire Henderson.
Henderson's lawyer, Ed Brass, said Henderson was planning to enter a guilty plea in a new trial triggered by Henderson's appeal. A plea deal is on hold, prosecutor Matt Lloyd said.
"All plea negotiations are off and we are just going to set it out for further proceedings," Lloyd added. "We will address the case on appeal once the (new) case proceeds a bit."
Brass said he is willing to continue representing Henderson.
"Art is a troubled man; I wouldn't want to let him down at this point when he really needs help," Brass said. "Since I began representing him . . . he's been a decent, honest person. Obviously, he's troubled on a level I didn't understand."
Bryson said it may be two weeks before formal criminal charges are filed, as the Utah County Attorney's Office wades through mounds of evidence and interviews several witnesses. Prior to working as a Lehi officer, Henderson was a correctional deputy with the Utah County Sheriff's Office from September 1998 to July 2000, said Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Darren Gilbert. He worked almost exclusively at the jail.
The first officer on the scene Friday was Owens, who Paul said "was an officer with Art, and friends with him outside of work, besides. They had been friends before they started working together on the force."
Henderson shot at Owens, Paul said, putting a bullet hole in the upper right corner of the front windshield of patrol car No. 67. Owens backed out of the line of fire, then confronted Henderson with officers Tim Hunsaker and Dave Boss.Comment on this story
A former amateur boxer proficient in martial arts, Henderson had been a use-of-force instructor for the Lehi Police Department and is a former SWAT officer. A stray bullet struck a passing SUV carrying a family on its way to breakfast, destroying the windshield. No one was injured, however.An interagency team that reviews officer-involved shootings launched an investigation at the scene, said Sherry Ragan, chief of the criminal division in the Utah County Attorney's Office.