UHP trooper shoots, injures man following traffic stop

Published: Sunday, July 14 2013 6:24 p.m. MDT

Officers map out locations around a suspect's car that was abandoned in a parking lot as South Salt Lake police and the Utah Highway Patrol investigate an officer-involved shooting Sunday, July 14, 2013, near 50 West and 2400 South.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SOUTH SALT LAKE — A routine traffic stop escalated into an officer-involved shooting about 2 a.m. Sunday after a gunman fled from officers, then confronted a man while searching for a place to hide.

Kody Scott Sturgeon, 35, of Salt Lake City, was shot and arrested after he allegedly pointed a gun at a Utah Highway Patrol trooper. The trooper fired more than once and shot Sturgeon in the hand and thigh, said South Salt Lake police spokesman Gary Keller.

Sturgeon was then taken into protective custody and transported to an area hospital. He was stabilized and did not suffer life-threatening injuries, Keller said.

The incident began when a UHP trooper noticed a Pontiac Grand Am driving erratically on southbound I-15 near 1300 South. As the trooper pulled the vehicle over, he noticed that the driver, Sturgeon, was having an argument with a passenger, a 32-year-old woman, Keller said.

The woman exited the car while parked on the freeway. When the trooper got out of his patrol car to address her safety, Sturgeon fled the scene in his car, he said.

The trooper did not chase Sturgeon, but he asked dispatchers to broadcast an "attempt to locate" for the vehicle, Keller said. Officers in the area of 2400 S. Main Street momentarily spotted the vehicle before it sped away. Shortly afterward, police located the vehicle about a block away abandoned in an apartment complex parking lot.

Officers set up a perimeter and started searching for Sturgeon with a police dog. During the search, Sturgeon approached a man near some storage units, told him he had a gun and wanted a place to hide from police, according to Keller.

“There may be some possible kidnapping charges pending from that interaction,” he said.

Eventually, Sturgeon left his hiding place and was confronted by a trooper near 50 W. 2400 South. Keller said the trooper fired more than once after Sturgeon pointed a handgun at the trooper.

A few residents awoke to gunshots, and some bullets hit a neighbor's car, breaking a window and leaving holes in its side.

Keller said Sturgeon is not believed to have fired his gun.

According to Keller, the incident is undergoing three different investigations. South Salt Lake police are conducting the initial investigation due to the jurisdictional location of the shooting, the UHP is investigating to ensure the incident followed official policies, and the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office is investigating the officer-involved shooting.

The woman passenger was cooperating with investigators and would not likely face any charges. Neither the trooper, nor the man who encountered Sturgeon at the storage units were injured.

Following the incident, Sturgeon gave police a lot of false information, including a false name, according to Keller.

Sturgeon's arrest is the latest in a long history of run-ins with law enforcement over the past 14 years.

In 1999, he was convicted on an amended charge of third-degree felony attempted robbery. His prison sentence was initially suspended and Sturgeon was placed on probation. But he later violated his probation and was sent to the Utah State Prison at age 21 on his original sentence of up to five years, according to Utah state court records.

In 2003, Sturgeon was sentenced to up to five years in prison again for felony shoplifting, and also concurrently served time for a 2004 misdemeanor shoplifting conviction.

In 2007, Sturgeon was convicted in several separate cases for crimes ranging from felony robbery, a drug-related felony and misdemeanor theft, according to court records. He was sentenced collectively to up to 15 years in prison.

Keller said it’s important for the public to remember to be wary of suspicious activity, especially during late night hours. "If you hear something, go out, and if somebody’s hiding in your backyard or garage, don’t approach them (but) contact police," he said.

Contributing: Pat Reavy

Email: kmckellar@deseretnews.com

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