Man charged with killing Ogden officer found dead in jail

Matthew Stewart 'knew who he was shooting at' in firing 31 rounds, prosecutor says

Published: Friday, May 24 2013 8:15 a.m. MDT

"This is exactly what the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment requires. The officers complied with the law in every respect," Smith said. He added that a judge ruled on Wednesday that the search warrant was "constitutionally sound," which may have been the "unjust ruling" that Stewart's family referred to in their statement.

Smith emphasized that officers were wearing items that identified them as police and made several announcements identifying themselves as they entered. But Stewart's attorney, Randy Richards, said Friday there are "real questions" whether the strike force identified themselves. He said all were wearing Levi's, and some wore black coats and baseball caps.

"None of them were in uniform, so to pretend somehow Matt was able to see them is simply looking the other way from truth," Richards said.

According to Smith, the officers entered Stewart's house about 8:40 p.m. and had cleared all but one room.

As the officers were in the hallway to clear the final room, Stewart unexpectedly started firing from a concealed position, striking Ogden police officer Shawn Grogan in the jaw, Smith said. Grogan sought cover in a nearby bathroom, where he was "trapped." Officer Derek Draper attempted to help but was caught in the hallway.

Smith said that's when Francom came in and provided cover by "engaging in gunfire" for Draper to get Grogan out of the house. Francom's actions, Smith said, saved the lives of his fellow officers.

Francom was shot seven times. Smith dispelled rumors Friday that Francom and others were hit by friendly fire.

"Ballistics have been done," he said. "Every bullet that struck an officer was fired from Mr. Stewart's gun."

As officers attempted to get Francom out of the house, Stewart continued firing.

"The reason six officers were injured is because they went to the aid of agent Francom," Smith said.

The county attorney also said he's heard "a lot of noise" that Stewart didn't know know they were police officers. He said such claims don't hold any water.

"The onus is very clear that he knew who he was shooting at," he said.

Ogden police officer Michael Rounkles, for example, arrived at the home as backup in a full Ogden police uniform.

"Instead of Mathew Stewart saying, 'Thank goodness the police are here to assist me, he immediately put a bullet in officer Rounkles' head," Smith said. "These officers' actions were heroic and they followed the law every step of the way."

Weber County Sheriff Terry Thompson said someone checked up on Stewart at least once an hour, 24 hours a day, in his cell. He also noted that since February of 2012, Stewart had rejected all offers from mental health professionals for assistance or counseling.

“To the Francom family, the suicide feels like the admission of guilt we’ve been waiting for,” said Francom’s aunt, Shawna Francom Peterson. “I’m not saying all suicides are an admission of guilt, but this one feels like it.”

She found it ironic that Stewart and his family have argued against the death penalty in court motions and public statements. “Perhaps Matthew’s ideas of what needed to be done weren’t the same as his family had been fighting so hard for,” she said.

Peterson also questioned Stewart’s claims that he didn’t know it was police officers who were raiding his home, especially since he kept firing over and over.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a bunch of police coming into your home, or someone coming in to rob your marijuana grow. … When do you stop shooting?” she asked. “He walked through their blood with his bare feet and tracked the officers’ blood through that home to the front door to shoot some more.”

Try out the new DeseretNews.com design!
try beta learn more
Get The Deseret News Everywhere