OREM — Two Orem police officers who fatally shot a 17-year-old boywho allegedly lunged at them with a knife in October were legally justified in the shooting, according to the Utah County Attorney.
On Oct. 12, police were called to perform a welfare check at 81 N. Paradise Drive. A mother reported she'd been locked out of her home and she believed her son might be in trouble, according to a letter written by Utah County Attorney Jeffrey R. Buhman.
The woman told police her son, Jacob E. Albrethsen, might be using methamphetamine and had missed school the past three weeks.
Orem Police Cpl. Chad Black and officer Joshua Hansen, with the mother's permission, entered the home by reaching inside a pet access door and unlocking the garage door, the letter states.
The officers found Jacob in a bedroom closet with a knife in his hand, according to the letter. Hansen "identified himself as a police officer" and told the teen to put the knife down. The boy ignored the command, police said, and tried to get out of the closet with the weapon still in his hand.
Hansen used the door to try to block the boy from getting out of the closet, Buhman wrote. During the struggle, Black discharged his Taser but it didn't work.
"The Taser apparently did not make contact and then (the boy) lunged out of the closet toward Cpl. Black with the knife in his hand," Buhman wrote.
Hansen then fired one shot at Jacob, who fell back into the closet while still holding onto the knife, "but he nonetheless attempted to get up and remove the closet door from between him and the officers, so officer Hansen fired another round," according to the letter.
Jacob then allegedly "lunged over" the closet door toward Hansen while still wielding the knife, prompting both officers to fire more rounds, according to the letter.
The teen suffered six gunshot wounds and was declared dead shortly after at a hospital.
A switch blade of about 10 inches was found in the bedroom where the struggle occurred, according to the county attorney office's report, as well as 33.3 grams of methamphetamine.
The mother later told investigators that following a painful break-up with his girlfriend and in the weeks leading up to the shooting, Jacob had been acting "paranoid." The boy had not made any suicidal comments, she said, but "stated if anyone attacks him, he would kill them."
On the day of the shooting, the mother "did say her son had a little knife and he was on his knees crawling. (The mother) described he was making a 'downward stabbing motion' with the knife. (The mother) believed he was doing this motion 'blindly,'" the report states.
"She told the officer, 'Please don’t shoot my son. Please don’t shoot him. He’s little.' She thought one of the officers took out a Taser, but was not sure if he shot the Taser or not. (The mother) said the next thing she knew, the bigger officer shot him," according to the report.
Black and Hansen were also both interviewed by the county attorney's office.
Hansen told investigators he feared his life was in danger during the incident.Comment on this story
"Like nothing I said, no matter who I was, nothing was going to change his thought process. Like, he was a hundred percent focused on me, and I don’t know how else to describe it, to be honest with you," he said, according to the report.
Buhman called the officers' actions "reasonable and necessary."
"The nature and immediacy of the danger posed by (the teen) and the extremely high probability that actions would lead to their death or serious injury, were facts obvious to the officers. In fact, they had little to no choice in how to respond," the county attorney wrote.