FARMINGTON Police officers believed they had a chance to safely end a 12-hour standoff Monday with a local firefighter and take the man into custody, Farmington Police Chief Wayne Hansen said Tuesday night.
But friends of Farmington resident Brian Wood, 36, said police provoked him when they deployed tear gas and flash grenades as they moved on him late Monday night.
"I just thought it was horrible," Farmington resident Wade Lake said of watching police close in on Wood, who had barricaded himself in his truck. "Just like someone tormenting an animal in a cage."
At a news conference Tuesday night, Hansen said negotiations with Wood were not progressing and that he, a unified command team and several members of the SWAT team made a joint decision to try to take Wood into custody using nonlethal tactics.
"We felt we had an opportunity to bring him in safely," Hansen said.
As police fired tear gas and set off flash grenades, Woods fired a shot and an officer returned fire, killing him, Hansen said.
Hansen declined to identify the officer and his department. A law enforcement source told the Deseret News the officer in question is a Davis County Sheriff's deputy. The officer is now on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation, as is common in any officer-involved shooting. A review of the events to determine whether the use of deadly force was justified is expected to be conducted by the Davis County Attorney's Office.
Wood had been engaged in a daylong standoff with police from Farmington, Clearfield and Bountiful, as well as deputies from the Davis County Sheriff's Office, following a domestic dispute with his wife, Liz, at their home near 115 E. 100 North. During the argument, Wood reportedly fired a shot into a garbage can, prompting Liz Wood and the couple's 10-year-old son, Jake, to flee the house.
Hansen said Brian Wood then made the 911 call that alerted police to the incident and told police to "come and get (him)."
But when police arrived, Wood barricaded himself in his pickup truck.
"I think it's clear he didn't mean to surrender," Hansen said.
Early in the standoff, officers fired a tear gas cannister that broke the driver's side window of the truck where Wood was sitting, but the tear gas apparently failed to penetrate the truck.
Negotiators made several attempts to talk Wood into surrendering, Hansen said, but those attempts proved fruitless. He said Wood made physical and verbal threats toward police during the standoff. At times, Wood exited the truck holding a gun to his head as he spoke with negotiators on a cell phone.
Just after 9 p.m. Monday, police initiated the attempt to take Wood into custody that ended in his being fatally shot by an officer, Hansen said.
Hansen said Monday's incident was not his department's first run-in with Wood. Farmington police responded to the Wood home in March following a reported domestic dispute. Police were able to talk Wood into surrendering in that incident. He was arrested for investigation of domestic assault.
Wade Lake said he's certain he could have defused the situation Monday if police had allowed him to talk to his lifelong friend.
"I know I could have settled him down," Lake said. "He was very distraught."
Hansen said he understands Lake's sadness, but law enforcement protocol does not allow untrained individuals to speak to someone in a standoff situation.
"That is generally something we do not let take place," Hansen said.
Wood, a part-time firefighter for the city, also had a pump service business that allowed him to spend time with his son, said Evan Lake, another of Wood's friends. The Lakes didn't say what they think drove Wood into a confrontation with police, but they said he had a good relationship with his wife.
"Brian was a good man having the worst day of his life," they wrote on www.forcedsuicide.blogspot.com.
Pastor Neal Humphrey, of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Fruit Heights, said he is providing spiritual counsel to Liz Wood and her family, who were at the mortuary during Tuesday's press conference. Humphrey said Liz Wood has barely been able give "yes" or "no" answers to questions about funeral arrangements since being told of her husband's death.
"She's a mess," Humphrey said. He also said he's offered her some counsel on the tragic event.
"It's safe to say ... that yesterday was the worst day of her life and now we can move on from there because it can't get any worse than this," he said.
Members of the Lake family say they are also feeling the loss and that the situation could have been handled better. They said Wood didn't need to die."I had to sit at home last night and explain to my kids what happened to their friend's dad," a tearful Wade Lake said.
Contributing: Ben Winslow E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org