OREM — The man accused of shooting and killing Provo police officer Joseph Shinners is a step closer to facing formal criminal charges.
On Tuesday, Orem police detectives sent their case to the Utah County Attorney's Office to be screened for formal charges. Police are recommending that Matt Frank Hoover, 40, be charged with aggravated murder, possession of a stolen firearm, possession of a firearm by a restricted person, methamphetamine possession, evading, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, criminal mischief and possession of drug paraphernalia, Orem Police Chief Gary Giles told the Deseret News.
It will be up to the county attorney to decide whether to charge Hoover with some or all of those counts. That decision could be made any day.
On Jan. 5, officers from the Provo and Orem police departments were attempting to arrest Hoover, who was spotted in a pickup truck in the parking lot of Bed Bath and Beyond, 50 W. University Parkway in Orem.
Hoover had two warrants out for his arrest and had allegedly made threatening comments toward police that he did not want to go back to jail.
Giles said Tuesday that as officers approached his vehicle, Hoover actually tried to drive away.
In cellphone video recorded by a witness, officers can be seen on both sides of Hoover's pickup truck. Shinners is standing on the passenger side, where the door is open.
"The evidence still is that there was one shot each. The evidence is still showing the suspect fired one round which hit officer Shinners, and officer Shinners is the one who shot and hit Hoover," Giles said.
The chief confirmed Tuesday that Shinners was wearing a bullet-proof vest. However, he was shot on a part of his body that was not covered by the vest.
In the video, Shinners is seen hobbling around Hoover's truck after being shot, and then kneeling down on the pavement. Other officers on scene, who were trying to pull Hoover out of the truck and arrest him, were not initially aware that Shinners had been shot.
"They didn't realize what had happened," the chief said. "I mean, a lot of the officers that were there, there was so much confusion, especially with the fact the vehicle had moved, so it had hit into the building and then he was trying to get away."
The witness who recorded the video can be heard talking about shots being fired. But Giles said the only two shots fired were inside the cab of the truck. He believes what witnesses actually heard was the sound of officers pounding on the driver's side window, trying to break out the glass.
Hoover has been in the hospital ever since the incident, under guard by agents from Adult Probation and Parole.Comment on this story
"He is improving. We suspect he will probably be released from the hospital within the next few days and most likely then be transported to the county jail," Giles said.
Although the case has been turned over to the Utah County Attorney's Office, Giles said there is still a lot of follow-up investigation to do. In addition, the officer-involved shooting investigation is ongoing.
Giles said both police departments have been extremely busy since the shooting, and he expects both chiefs to get together soon to talk about the status of both investigations.