Salt Lake County Sheriff
Elijah James Smith

WEST VALLEY CITY — A 20-year-old man was shot and killed by a West Valley police officer over the weekend after breaking into a house occupied by three children.

But what prompted the officer to fire was still being investigated Monday.

Elijah James Smith, of South Salt Lake, was shot and killed Sunday.

On Sunday, West Valley police spokeswoman Roxeanne Vainuku said a theft was reported at Cricket Wireless, near 3411 S. Redwood Road, about 3:15 p.m.

A short time later, an officer spotted a man matching the description from the earlier incident outside a convenience store near 1940 W. 3500 South. Smith ran off and several officers chased after him, Vainuku said.

Smith ran into the garage of a home on Dana Shelby Court, she said, and entered the house. Inside, Smith encountered the homeowners. Vainuku could not say what type of confrontation happened between them, but noted that he quickly ran out.

At that point, Smith ran into another house, 3551 S. Jenelles Bay. Three children, ages 13, 10 and 9, were inside with no adults, Vainuku said. Three officers, who were close behind, saw Smith run into the house.

At the door, one of the children confirmed to the officers that Smith was inside.

Vainuku did not know if any of the children were ever threatened by Smith or what kind of interaction he had with the juveniles. What prompted an officer to fire a shot inside the house, killing Smith, was still being investigated Monday. It is not known whether Smith was armed. Vainuku said all three children were in the house at the time of the shooting. None of the children were injured.

The officer who shot Smith has been with the West Valley Police Department for under two years. His name has not been released.

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Vainuku said all three officers were wearing body cameras that recorded the incident. The Unified Police Department will use that video as they investigate the shooting.

The 20-year-old Smith had a minor criminal history, according to state court records. He pleaded guilty to intoxication, a class C misdemeanor, in February. Smith was convicted of misdemeanor trespassing and failing to disclose his identity to police in 2016. A year ago he took a plea in abeyance to a minor in possession of alcohol.