LAYTON — He was shot by police. But even his family members say the officer was justified in pulling the trigger.
"If I would have been him, I'd have done the same thing. I think he was justified in shooting him," said Joshua Isakson's stepfather, Neil Linton.
Isakson, 30, was shot in the chest by a Layton police officer and taken to a local hospital in critical condition Tuesday night. He remained in intensive care Wednesday. He was shot after police and family members say he "jumped" the officer, attacking him without warning, punching him multiple times and causing significant bruising and cuts on his face.
"He was beatin' down on him real bad. The guy probably feared for his life," Linton said.
The officer, an eight-year veteran of the Layton Police Department whose name was not immediately released, was treated for head and facial injuries and later released from the hospital.
The incident began about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday when police were called to a house where Isakson was assaulting his girlfriend, said Layton Police Lt. Garret Atkin. The caller told 911 dispatchers she thought the man "was going to kill the victim," he said.
Linton said his stepson was "furious," but he wasn't really sure why. He said it might have been because he found his girlfriend across the street drinking with some other men.
"I don't know what the deal was," he said.
Lance Linton, Isakson's step-brother, said Isakson had been under a lot of stress lately.
When officers arrived at the address where the woman's friend had called 911, they learned the man had taken the woman across the street to his house, 566 E. Miller Ave.
Lance Linton said his mother tried to get between Isakson and his girlfriend who continued to fight. The couple eventually went up to Isakson's room where their dispute continued.
About the same time, the first officer responding to the call arrived at the scene. He walked up the driveway with his gun drawn. Linton said his mother pointed to the upstairs bedroom where Isakson had gone.
"He opened the door and he jumped on the cop and started beating on him," Neil Linton said.
"It was a very quick, violent attack," Atkin added.
That's when Neil Linton, who was asleep at first, said he heard three gunshots.
"I heard my wife screaming at her son, screaming his name. Then I seen four legs sticking out the doorway into the hallway," he said.
The officer was able to fire several rounds from his gun, striking Isakson in the chest. Lance Linton said Isakson was struck once.
The officer was treated for head and face injuries, including bruises, swollen eyes and at least one large cut on his face, Atkin said. Investigators believe the injuries were caused by Isakson's fists. He did not have a weapon during the assault.
The officer was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday.
The man's girlfriend was also treated at a local hospital for undisclosed injuries and was later released.
Utah court records show Isakson has had a couple of felony convictions over the past eight years and served prison time.
He pleaded guilty to felony burglary and theft in 2006 in exchange for other vehicle burglary charges being dismissed. He was sentenced to up to five years at the Utah State Prison.
In 2004 he was found guilty of felony credit card fraud. Because he later violated his probation, he was sentenced to prison in connection with his 2006 charges.
Isakson first arrived at the Utah State Prison in September of 2006. He was paroled in 2008, but violated his parole and was sent back to prison a few months later. He was again paroled in 2009 but again returned to prison four months later.
Isakson was discharged from prison in August of 2010.
Lance Linton didn't deny Wednesday that his stepbrother had had problems in the past. But since his latest release from prison, he said he had been doing much better — until Tuesday night.
"I think it was just rage," he said. "He's got a serious problem with authority. He was doing good (out of prison) this time. ... One wrong day can really mess somebody up."
Lance Linton said Isakson had not been drinking. He just had experienced a bad day at work. That, together with the fight with his girlfriend and the fact that police were called, were apparently the breaking points.
"When you're enraged and you don't know what to do, there's no stopping you," he said.
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