Officer who killed man with explosive device was justified, D.A. says
One officer said he saw Mayhew stand up and “feared for the safety of officers as he observed Mayhew’s demeanor,” Gill wrote. The officer said he heard the command to stop, followed by Mayhew shouting, “Shoot me, (expletive deleted),” and a single gunshot that prompted Mayhew to fall to the ground.
Sweeny, a police officer of seven years, said he noticed Mayhew’s behavior change when the negotiating officer left. He reported that “Mayhew became upset and agitated, began tapping his foot, his back was shaking and he wiped his eyes as though he was crying.”
Sweeny said Mayhew appeared to be “squaring himself away” when he gathered his belongings and started walking toward Smith. Sweeny “was informed that if Mayhew walked 5 feet past the established perimeter … snipers would lose sight of him and they would not be able to intervene if needed.” Sweeny heard Smith command Mayhew to stop and the man’s response to shoot him, the letter states.
“As Mayhew’s left arm made a movement towards the backpack, officer Sweeny said he feared for his safety, along with the safety of the other officers and the public within the blast radius,” Gill wrote. “Officer Sweeny stated he feared death or serious bodily injury to all persons within the blast radius if he did not act. Officer Sweeny then fired one round from his M-4 SWAT issued rifle, striking Mayhew in the chest once.”
Mayhew was still holding the trigger device in his hand and a robot was used to move the backpack and trigger device away from the man. A robot camera showed wiring, a power source, a potential trigger and “at least four PVC pipe sections with end caps” were in the backpack. Gill said it appeared that the bag contained pipe bombs.
“Subsequent investigation confirmed the combined components would constitute an explosive device under (Utah law),” the letter states.
Mayhew was transported to University Hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival.
Investigators later went to the man’s home and found PVC pipes with a diagram related to the explosive device involved in the incident.
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