County attorney says Willard police chief justified in shooting man after freeway chase

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 6 2015 11:22 p.m. MDT

WILLARD, Box Elder County — The Box Elder County Attorney's Office has ruled that the Willard police chief was justified in shooting a Sandy man who lunged at an officer following a freeway chase.

Cody Ramseyer, 49, was shot March 29 following a chase through three counties on I-15. Ramseyer was reported to have exceeded speeds of 110 mph, and officers pursuing him said they were worried he was going to cause a traffic accident, according to a report released this week by the county attorney's office.

The county attorney determined Willard Police Chief Nate Thompson was correct to join the pursuit of Ramseyer along I-15 and that he was justified in using lethal force when he believed another officer was in danger, despite repeated warnings that Ramseyer stop.

Ten officers from multiple agencies pursued Ramseyer along I-15 after concerned motorists called dispatch reporting a reckless driver just after 10 p.m. The chase ended near Willard when Ramseyer's GMC Denali veered off the road into a ditch.

Officers said they couldn't see Ramseyer through the high weeds, but they could hear him moving toward them and shouted that he had a gun as he waded through the muddy, knee-deep water, the report states. Officers identified themselves as police and ordered him to stop, but Ramseyer responded, "No way," and added, "I'm not going to do it."

Ramseyer also told police to "just shoot me" and said, "I'm going to kill you," according to the report.

As Ramseyer left the canal and approached the officers positioned along the freeway shoulder, one hit Ramseyer with a Taser, knocking him to the ground. As police approached, however, Ramseyer sprang to his feet "like an NFL linebacker going for a quarterback," according to one officer quoted in the report. A second Taser was deployed unsuccessfully.

Ramseyer then lunged toward Pleasant View police officer Brent Hollingsworth, who had holstered his gun, the report states. Thompson said he feared Ramseyer was going to tackle the officer or push him backward into traffic, so he fired two shots with a semi-automatic rifle, striking Ramseyer twice just before 10:30 p.m.

Ramseyer was taken to Brigham City Community Hospital, then transported by helicopter to McKay-Dee Hospital Center in Ogden, where he was pronounced dead.

A medical examiner determined the man had high levels of methamphetamine and alcohol in his system, and investigators located a half-empty pint of whiskey, an open bottle of beer and other alcohol in his Denali. No weapons were found in the vehicle.

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