Utah police officers kill 11 in 2010, plus 1 execution

Published: Sunday, Jan. 2 2011 5:00 p.m. MST

Army Spec. Brandon S. Barrett


1. MIDVALE, Jan. 1 — Midvale police shot and killed Tevita Talanoa Fisiitalia, 22, during an attempted robbery at an apartment near 6700 South and 625 East. Fisiitalia shot and killed a police dog while officers were chasing him. Fisiitalia was one of four suspects who tried to flee from police. When officers lost track of Fisiitalia, they released Koda, a 3 1/2-year-old Belgian Malinois that had been with the Midvale department K-9 squad just over a year, to detain him. Fisiitalia shot the animal twice and officers returned fire, striking Fisiitalia. He was transported to an area hospital where he later died. The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office later cleared the officers involved of any wrongdoing.

2. WEST VALLEY CITY, Feb. 2 — Travis Paul Johnson, 39, died a week after being shot by West Valley police. Johnson was about to make a drug deal on Jan. 27 in the parking lot of Burger King, 3470 S. Redwood Road, when three officers approached. Johnson tried speeding away and bumped an officer with his car in the process, prompting another officer to open fire.

3. ROOSEVELT, Feb. 17 — Gary M. Wheeler, 44, was killed after he tried to flee from police officers who saw him leaving a Big O Tire store that had been broken into. Wheeler ultimately hit one patrol vehicle head-on. Officers told the man to exit the vehicle, but he instead accelerated, leading Roosevelt police officer T.J. Bird to fire two shots into the vehicle. No charges were filed against Bird after the Duchesne County Attorney's Office ruled that he was justified in using deadly force.

4. SALT LAKE CITY, May 1 — Favian Martinez, 20, was shot and killed by Salt Lake police officers after he failed to follow officers' commands to raise his hands. Officers responded to an apartment complex at 245 E. South Temple around 2 a.m. after receiving a call from a man who said Martinez pulled a gun on him during an argument. Martinez fled from officers, but was eventually spotted. He was told multiple times to put his hands in the air. When he instead raised his gun, officers fired five rounds, fatally wounding the man. Martinez's mother later said her son might have run because he had a warrant for his arrest and wouldn't have wanted to lose his job. The officers involved were later cleared.

5. PROVO, May 8 — Ronald Ethington, 35, a man with ties to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, was shot and killed by Provo police officers after he got into a scuffle with security at a Smith's grocery store and pulled a gun. He entered the store at 350 N. Freedom Blvd. and attempted to take some beer when he was stopped by security officers. He then tried to flee, prompting guards to tackle him and call 911. They became aware the man had a gun and succeeded in wresting it from the man, but Ethington grabbed the gun back when employees became distracted upon the arrival of police. Officers told Ethington to put the gun down and place his hands in the air. Instead, they say he pointed the gun at police. Officers opened fire and Ethington again lifted the gun. Additional shots were fired and Ethington was killed. The shooting was found to be justified by the Utah County Attorney's Office.

6. BOUNTIFUL, July 9 — William Oakden, 30, was shot and killed at a mobile home park at 990 N. 500 West. He had walked to his neighbor's trailer covered in blood, holding a knife and threatening to kill himself. When police arrived, multiple shots were fired at Oakden. A neighbor said he had his son's toy gun in his waistband. Two officers from the Woods Cross and West Bountiful police departments fired at Oakden.

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