Taylorsville officer justified in firing 4 shots at gunman, D.A. says

Published: Thursday, April 28 2011 1:59 p.m. MDT

TAYLORSVILLE — A Taylorsville police officer was legally justified earlier this month when he fired four shots at a gunman who refused to drop his rifle, the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office determined.

On April 3, police were called to 1017 Country Villa Lane after a man called to report that his stepfather, James Chidister, was pounding on his door. Chidister left, but later returned after his estranged wife called him and told him officers had arrived.

As he arrived, Chidister spoke via cell phone to Taylorsville police officer Ryan Oyler,, who was inside the house. Chidister told the officer that he was armed and that he wanted his estranged wife to step outside, District Attorney Sim Gill said in a statement.

An officer outside the home observed Chidister exit his vehicle with a rifle in the "ready" position. When the officer told him to drop the gun, investigators say Chidister replied, "No. Why don't you come and get it?"

Oyler left the house and saw Chidister next to his truck. "Mr. Chidister was holding a scoped rifle in the 'low ready position' with his right hand on the action and his left hand on the fore grip of the barrel," Gill said in the statement.

Oyler ordered Chidister to drop the gun three times, but the man ignored his commands, according to the investigation. Oyler then fired four shots with his service pistol because he was fearful for the safety of himself, other officers and occupants inside the home. None of the shots struck Chidister, but one round hit Chidister's rifle, which forced him to drop the weapon. He was then placed under arrest.

When asked what he was thinking when officers arrived, Chidister told police, "Suicide by cop, I guess," according to Gill.

Oyler was found legally justified to use deadly force, the D.A. said.

Spencer Garn

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