MILLCREEK — Three Unified police officers who shot and killed a man in a shootout that also resulted in the death of a police K-9 have been cleared by the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office.
District Attorney Sim Gill announced Thursday that Sgt. Chad Reyes, detective Kresdon Bennett and detective Nate Clark were legally justified in using deadly force against David Shane Anderson, 36, of West Jordan. Anderson, who was shot in the head, died several days later as a result of his injuries.
On April 27, a group of Unified police officers from the Taylorsville precinct developed information on the whereabouts of Anderson, a wanted fugitive who just days earlier had rammed a police car and nearly hit four people in a crosswalk while trying to flee, according to Gill's report.
The officers arrived at 4303 S. 730 East and began searching the house along with police K-9 Aldo, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois. They also received information from an informant that Anderson told others that he would not let police take him back to jail.
As officers started clearing each room, Aldo sensed someone was hiding in a closet in a bedroom. That's when Anderson opened fire through the closet walls.
"Officer (Luis) Lovato said he expected to start 'taking rounds' himself. Officer Lovato said he saw a 'whole bunch' of blood and said he knew it was coming from Aldo," the district attorney's report states.
Lovato, Aldo's handler, picked up his partner and carried him out of the house as the other officers covered him. Bennett "said he could still hear gunfire and see dust coming from the closet area going toward officer Lovato," Gill wrote.
Bennett "began firing into the closet through the wall to stop the threat. Detective Bennett said that he believed he fired four to six rounds," according to the report. "Detective Bennett said based upon his experience and training and the circumstances of the moment, he believes Mr. Anderson was waiting in ambush, trying to kill them."
Reyes said when he saw the bullets "coming through the walls," he believed Anderson was intent on "going out with a bang," the report states. "Sgt. Reyes said he believed the suspect was going to either 'finish off' officer Lovato or engage the rest of the officers."
Reyes said he also believed Anderson was waiting to "ambush" them. He said that, at that moment, he thought about Salt Lake County sheriff's deputy Mike Welcker, who was ambushed, shot through a door and killed in 1994 while searching a Taylorsville apartment for a prison parolee wanted for questioning in an assault.
After the house was evacuated by the officers, a SWAT team was called in and tear gas was deployed inside. When no one came out, SWAT team members sent in another K-9 to pull Anderson's body out of the closet.
After the incident, Anderson's family immediately reached out to Lovato and the police department to offer their apologies and condolences. In Anderson's obituary, the family asked that donations be made to the Friends of Unified Police K-9 organization in lieu of flowers, and later presented Lovato with an oil painting portrait of Aldo.
Anderson's family said years of poor choices, including drug abuse and distancing himself from his family, led him to do what he did.