SALT LAKE CITY — The family of a man whom Bountiful and Woods Cross police fatally shot two years ago has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the officers and the police departments.
William C. Oakden III and Karli Anne Miller claim police used excessive force when they shot and killed their son William C. Oakden IV outside the Trade Winds Mobile Home Park in Bountiful. Oakden IV's young son, identified in the lawsuit as W.O., also is a plaintiff.
Shortly after midnight on July 9, 2010, officers responded to the mobile home park at 990 N. 500 West and found an intoxicated Oakden IV covered in blood, holding a knife and threatening to kill himself, police said.
Oakden IV, 30, pulled out an Airsoft gun that was tucked into his waistband and fired it at officers, police said. Officers shot him multiple times, and he died at an area hospital a short time later.
Oakden IV had been charged months before the shooting in 2nd District Court with assaulting a police officer. He was found guilty of amended charges of intoxication and damaging a phone. He also had convictions for criminal mischief, driving on a suspended license, driving under the influence and failing to stop at the command of an officer.
In a January 2011 letter to the police departments, Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings wrote that an investigation concluded that Woods Cross police officer Adam Osoro and West Bountiful police officer Trent Wass were justified in using deadly force.
Oakden III and Miller in the lawsuit dispute the officers' version of the events that led to the shooting.
"There are too many problems with the officers' stories for them to be believed," the suit states.
The lawsuit questions how, despite police having their weapons trained on Oakden IV and having his arms raised, he could have lifted his shirt and pulled the toy gun before the officers could do anything. It also contends the trajectory of the fatal bullet put the officers in different positions than they claimed.
"There are just some things in the report that didn't quite add up," said J. Scott Cottingham, the lawyer for Oakden III and Miller.
Cottinghham said he didn't want to talk about details of the case because he wants to work out a settlement with the defendants.
Rawlings said the lawsuit surprised him because he had invited Cottingham to be involved in the internal investigation of the shooting but the attorney didn't take him up on it. Rawlings called the suit "laughable" and said the county would aggressively defend it.
"At this point, I'm not concerned about where this lawsuit is going," he said. "The use of force was proper and appropriate and so was the investigation."
Defendants in the suit include the Bountiful and Woods Cross police departments; Oroso, Wass and other police officers; Rawlings and his office; West Bountiful; and Davis County.