More conflicting details emerge in Utah case of police drawing gun on child

Woods Cross requests full investigation of officer's conduct

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  • Sylvia33 Hyrum, UT
    June 13, 2019 9:58 p.m.

    Anyone criticizing this officer ought to take a ride with a police officer for an all nighter. They are the only thing keeping you sleeping safe at night. I'm glad this turned out without anyone getting hurt.

  • not status quo Bountiful, UT
    June 13, 2019 8:41 p.m.

    Mayor Earnshaw says an investigation isn't necessary.. And Black Lives Matter wants the officer fire. (again without an investigation).
    4 different versions so far. I would agree that the investigation would not
    be necessary. If only the officer had activated his body camera, all the "he said, she said" would be more clarified.
    Once again, the taxpayers of Utah are on the hook for legal fees to defend this officers actions.

  • UtahBlueDevil Alpine, UT
    June 13, 2019 5:26 p.m.

    Iron rod.... thats not the kid.... that and the dude behind him were witnesses. The kid is only 4 foot something.

  • Iron Rod Salt Lake City, UT
    June 13, 2019 1:42 p.m.

    According to the picture he looks older than a ten year old.
    How old would you estimate the person behind him in the picture?

  • Harrison Bergeron Salt Lake City, UT
    June 13, 2019 1:21 p.m.

    Sportsfan123: “The other absurdity is referring to a 10 year old boy as a young man, as if to qualify him…”

    This is the fault of Disney who has been referring to 10-year old kids as adults for many years to qualify them for adult ticket prices at their parks. 😉

    Sportsfan123: “So why can't the officer admit wrong doing and the police agency hand down reprimands, promise to do better training and make all of this go away?”

    Jokes aside, I totally agree with you. The reason this doesn’t happen is because of our jackpot justice system. Some people see an unfortunate incident like this as an opportunity to go dig in the pockets of people who had nothing to do with it: taxpayers.

    In an ideal world it would be exactly as you described: “the officer admit wrong doing and the police agency hand down reprimands, promise to do better training and make all of this go away.” Sadly what is happening now is posturing on both sides for a lawsuit. And since it’s taxpayers that would be the real losers, I would agree with doing whatever it takes to defend innocent taxpayers from jackpot justice.

  • Sportsfan123 Herriman, UT
    June 13, 2019 11:34 a.m.

    What is absurd is the police officer the attorney general and the mayor are defending the bad actions of a police officer.

    The other absurdity is referring to a 10 year old boy as a young man, as if to qualify him as a potential suspect because he may or may not fit the discription of one of the suspect's.

    Another absurdy is I read the original story regarding the potential suspect's and they mentioned one as hispanic and didnt know about the other, funny how the story changes.

    Unless someone produces video evidence of the incident it is hearsay, no matter how many more witnesses saw it differently than the officers own testimony the attorney will always side with the officer, dispite the fact the officer pulled his gun on a little 10 year old boy, which has been established as fact.

    So why can't the officer admit wrong doing and the police agency hand down reprimands, promise to do better training and make all of this go away? Because police can't accept any wrong doing ever, just ask nurse Wubbles.

    I fear the worst had the child reached for one of his pocket's, officer's are trained to pull the trigger in that scenario, that is why this incident should never ever happen.

  • UtahBlueDevil Alpine, UT
    June 13, 2019 11:31 a.m.

    2bits - race is involved here becuase the cop simple used on item to choose to go after this kid. It was the color of his skin. No other thing. It wasn't his cloths. It wasn't his height, the kid is under 5 feet tall. Not many "teenagers" are. Lots of white kids play in their yards and aren't assumed to be "gang members". Why would there be any assumption that this kid was a gang member... his tats.... what he was wearing... who he was hanging with.... prior interactions with him. That fact that you went to putting "gang" member into this discussion just reinforces the bias. When you talk about white kids... do you assume they might be gang members.

    The only description the cop had that matched was the color of his skin... thats it. Per witnesses... the kids didn't run. I am not saying the cop is racist... but race sure played a key part in his decision to stop this child - yes 10 is still a child - and pull a gun on him.

    If your child had a gun pulled on them because they were white... would you accept that? Because some other white person did something wrong? This is where we fall into the profiling trap - Black = gang member = pull your weapon. Profiling.

  • UtahBlueDevil Alpine, UT
    June 13, 2019 11:22 a.m.

    "You instantly Assume the officer did something wrong unless he can prove he didn't. That's not how it works in America. And that goes for Americans who do police work. Same laws protect them. They are Americans too."

    Exactly... and that is what this cop did to a 10 year old, assumed he was dangerous, threatened him with deadly force. Why is the cop afforded this benefit of doubt, while this 10 year old was immediately thought to be a suspect because he shared the same skin color as possibly who was involved. And we still don't have a definitive description of the "other" person yet. That story keeps changing as well.

    I'm not say the cop did something criminal, but when you start pulling weapons on 10 year olds, something went really wrong.

    And that presumption of innocence, the cop had something that could have definitively exonerated him - but he choose not to use it. Had time to pull his weapon on an unarmed kid, but didn't have the time to activate his camera. One should not happen without the other.

    Its because the cop didn't do what he was supposed to do that he has left himself open to questioning. He had the power to make this all go away - he choose not to.

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    June 13, 2019 11:15 a.m.

    @Zabilde,

    Doesn't matter whether the cop pointed the gun at the person's head, chest, legs, or at the "low ready" (which is the center of mass when the person is on the ground as commanded).

    The very fact the cop went to his gun immediately; and started yelling commands for an innocent child to get on the ground; is what is wrong with this situation. The cop didn't have to make split second decisions and presuming that this particular person was guilty of committing a shooting crime; just because he was following a report of a shooting.

    Cops NEED to take a bit of time (not split seconds); to actually verify their targets BEFORE they start barking out orders and pulling their weapons out. MANY ways to verify their target... such as if other cops are already chasing this person; is this person carrying a gun; is this person harming others.

    If unsure; the cop should pull off to the side of the road and get out WITHOUT pulling the weapon and TALK (not yell) with the person.

    Presumption of Innocence is supposed to be the way all government interaction with its citizens in this nation, starts even with a simple talk. Not presumption of guilt; and ready to shoot in a split second.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 13, 2019 11:00 a.m.

    @Impartial7 10:32
    You instantly Assume the officer did something wrong unless he can prove he didn't. That's not how it works in America. And that goes for Americans who do police work. Same laws protect them. They are Americans too.

    ===

    RE: "The cop, the chief and the mayor are all covering for each other"...
    ---
    That's another Assumption. You don't know that.

    ===

    RE: "The truth will come out"...
    ---
    Another Assumption.

    What if the truth already came out?

    You seem to be Assuming when the truth comes out... it will confirm your Assumption that the cop is dirty. And your Assumption the Mayor is dirty, Assumption the chief or police is dirty, Assuming they're all dirty.

    That's a lot of Assuming. Especially for someone who's impartial.

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    June 13, 2019 10:59 a.m.

    "The officer took action in a dangerous, rapidly developing situation based on the description of one of the suspects as black and that the suspect was last seen running in the immediate vicinity, the statement said. He "reasonably" concluded that he had "at least reasonable suspicion, if not sufficient probable cause," to detain the "young man.""

    If being black and in the vicinity is considered "reasonable suspicion" or "probable cause" to detain the person; then we have fallen into a police state. There is nothing suspicious about being black; and nothing suspicious about being in the same area as a criminal. Even if he was running that also is NOT suspicious.

    Unless he was already being chased by other cops; was brandishing a weapon; or was clearly violating some law (like jumping fences; running across streets; looking in windows; trying to break into a house; etc. etc. thousands of possible ACTUAL suspicious activities of criminal intent) then no, the cop had no reasonable suspicion to detain him at all. But, if that is how they are being trained; then we have no freedom left in this State; cops making up their own reasons for detaining/assualting random innocent people!

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 13, 2019 10:45 a.m.

    @imsmarterthanyou (you really aren't)
    RE:"Utah cops have a "shoot first, ask questions later" policy.
    ===
    The officer didn't shoot. He had his gun ready. There's a difference.

    If we really have a "Shoot first" policy in Utah... why didn't he shoot? Your Assumption is obviously false. This case is proof. He factually didn't shoot first.

    ===

    Why some people are consistently against the people who risk their lives to protect us... I'll never know.

    There's absolutely no evidence of a "shoot first policy" imsmarterthanyou.

    There are 4,782 sworn police officers in Utah. How many people do you think they deal with in a year? Thousands.

    How many of those thousands have they shot and killed? Six in 2018. Hows that for your shoot first policy?

    There have been police officers killed by people who caught them off-guard. I don't blame officers for being on-guard when responding to a situation involving a reportedly armed and dangerous person. Do you?

    Drawing your gun is not the same as shooting someone. They should be on-guard when responding to an armed intruder call.

    ===

    RE: "Lets end the murder by cop trend around here"...
    --
    Shees imsmarterthanyou, get a grip!

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    June 13, 2019 10:32 a.m.

    The cop, the chief and the mayor are all covering for each other. The truth will come out. The cop should be suspended for not having his body cam on. That's what they are there for. If anyone else erased the footage, they should be fired. This isn't going away.

  • Harrison Bergeron Salt Lake City, UT
    June 13, 2019 10:26 a.m.

    I don’t have a problem with the officer questioning the kid, but the weapon should never be un-holstered unless it’s about to be used. Pointing a firearm at someone to intimidate is unacceptable. Unless the boy had some kind of a weapon (which nobody is asserting), the side-arm should have remained in the holster. That said, it also makes no sense to sue your neighbors (the taxpayers) over this. Only the officer should have consequences, not the public at large. The jack-pot-justice mentality only serves to harm the people least responsible (taxpayers) and put everyone on the defensive.

    Imsmarterthanyou: "I've said it before and I'll say it again. Utah cops have a "shoot first, ask questions later" policy."

    Just because you keep repeating it, doesn’t make it any less false. If it were true, there literally would be several police shootings every day.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 13, 2019 9:36 a.m.

    RE: "I’m not sure racism is involved"...
    ---
    I don't know why anyone would Assume "racism".

    He was dispatched to handle a quickly evolving situation involving a black male running with a gun in the neighborhood. I would kinda expect him to stop black males and see if they are the person he's looking for, now white males.

    That's not "Racism". It's paying attention to the call-out and looking for people that meet that description, not Racism.

    If you are a police officer called out to find an armed black male... would you stop equal numbers of white males, just to make sure people don't call you a "Racist"? No!

    I wouldn't. I would be looking for black males. Not stopping to question white males (to not be racist).

    It's ridiculous to Assume racism on the part of the officer if he was dispatched to find an armed black male, and he questions black males running in the neighborhood where it was reported.

    Maybe the person who called 911 is racist (for describing the perpetrator as a black male). But not the officer.

    You can't blame the officer for questioning black males when he's dispatched to find an armed black male in the neighborhood. That's not racism people

  • imsmarterthanyou Salt Lake City, UT
    June 13, 2019 9:28 a.m.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again. Utah cops have a "shoot first, ask questions later" policy. The people of the state should rise up and put a stop to that. Lets end the murder by cop trend around here.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 13, 2019 9:07 a.m.

    He doesn't 10. He looks like he could be a teenager. And teenagers sometimes carry guns. Especially if they are in gangs.

    The police were called out on a high stress call... to find an armed person fitting his description. When they find a person fitting the description (not knowing his age instantly) I don't blame them for handling him the way they would anybody who fits the description of the armed person they are looking for.

    I don't know why people are flipping out.

    For some it's because he is black. Well that's the description of the armed person they were called to find. It wasn't the officer discriminating because he was black. That's the description they were given.

    For some it's because he was 10. Well the officer didn't know that at the time. He could have been 14. And 14 year old's have shot and killed people. Right here in SLC.

    I don't blame the officer. He was doing what he was trained to do. Find people who fit the armed person's description and question them.

    Once he questions the kid he would know he was 10. But not before.

    It's normal to be ready (gun out) when you confront someone who fits the description of our armed subject.

  • bachelors of science Brigham City, UT
    June 13, 2019 8:45 a.m.

    I'm sure the police officer is a nice person, but I wouldn't want him or her working in my neighborhood.

  • Thomas Jefferson Salt Lake City, UT
    June 13, 2019 8:33 a.m.

    "Wood didn't want any part of the situation because he is black. He spent the next couple of hours at his friend's house. He said he didn't feel comfortable going back to the area.

    "I’m not sure racism is involved, but I just wanted to play it safe," he said."

    THAT right there is what our white privilege is people.
    I would have felt no worry at all but this guy is totally afraid to help when he KNOWS he has done nothing wrong. And I simply dont blame him. Todays police departments are full of very frightened cops. Cops who always seem to stand up for each other even when its obvious one of them stepped over the line.

    "The city, the police chief and the officer are troubled by accusations that the officer acted inappropriately due to "racial animus," according to the statement."

    OTOH I really doubt his actions were caused by facial animus. I think they are caused by the fear that is instilled into police everyday by their leaders and coworkers. This 'we do such a dangerous job' misinformation coupled with the 'us vs them' attitude feeds this fear.

    Our police need oversight that doesnt bow to them at every turn. They dont need toady mayors trying to save a lawsuit.

  • bamafone Salem, UT
    June 13, 2019 8:30 a.m.

    Ron, no we don’t, but you might

  • Well.... Phoenix, AZ
    June 13, 2019 7:44 a.m.

    Curious--the people NOT at the scene are the ones trying to say the kid was running or acting suspiciously, justifying the officer. The people who WERE there are more consistent with what they saw--an officer hastily pulling a gun on a CHILD. Some of the armchair criminologists here are pretty quick to judge, but unless the suspect in sight really IS doing something suspicious, there's no reason to pull out the weapon. This really does need to be investigated.

  • Laura Bilington Maple Valley, WA
    June 13, 2019 7:43 a.m.

    And we all know that if the suspect had been described as an average height white male---then the officer would have been just as quick to draw his gun on a white, 4'7" kid that was playing in his yard a block away. And none of the DN readers who so eloquently defended the cop would have had a problem with that. Right?

    And Pipeliner, what are the odds that a Utah town of 11,000 would have a black police officer on their payroll?

  • mohokat , 00
    June 13, 2019 7:15 a.m.

    And out of the woodwork the usual suspects appear. A Lawyer, The NAACP, Black Lives Matter. Anybody who couldn't see this?

  • UtahBlueDevil Alpine, UT
    June 13, 2019 7:14 a.m.

    I don't think this is a criminal issue, but a training issue. Utah police pull their guns too often, to quickly. I would love to hear the officers explanation where he though he was in imminent threat but a four foot, unarmed, youth. Why did he need to threaten deadly force, at any point.

    The question was asked why are people so quick to judge police.... the fact is there are a few bad apples out there that have given people the right to be reasonably cautious about how people who have license to shot people act. We know not all have the best training, though they may be good people. We also know there are a few who do act illegally and feel they have immunity for their actions, like the officer in Charleston that shot an unarmed man in the back after stopping him for a broken tail light.

    Everyday people make wrong judgements on other people, the issue is with police that error in judgement could cost someone their life. And hence why what police due is viewed with such scrutiny. Bad apples do exist.

  • Pipeliner1957 Denver, CO
    June 13, 2019 5:43 a.m.

    Here we go again!!!! If it was a black officer then no one would say a thing. But every time a person of color gets mixed up then they want to call the naacp. Total discrimination, the black population has all kinds of programs for black people, like the negro college fund but if there was a white college fund then people of color would stir up a stink.
    Why do people have to label any kind
    Of color in any type of organization, it’s not about color, why can’t we all get along an jus help humanity, not based on color, but of actual need. Just my thought

  • Zabilde Riverdale, UT
    June 13, 2019 5:42 a.m.

    abrady: No that is not a fact. That is an unsupported and patently false allegation.

    Pointed gun at child's head? Just because witnesses, several feet away and not looking from the same angle as the officer say they think he was pointing it at the child's head does not make them correct. First the angle of view is key. Next is policy and training. You don't shoot for the head so you don't point at the head. Center mass or at the low ready as stated are more accurate.

    The mother and others were not looking down the barrel so they can't know where it was pointed other than the general direction. Eyewitnesses are rarely reliable at describing a scene. They weren't expecting it and usually weren't really paying that close attention until the event basically ends. Then if one hears another's description, unless they were paying close attention they will fill in the missing details of what they saw with the details provided by others. These teens coming forward days later are completely unreliable as witnesses as to where the gun was pointing, their memories are tainted and molded by the claims of the mother.

    The officer handled it correctly.

  • Beaver4life Woodbridge, VA
    June 13, 2019 5:38 a.m.

    It may not be necessarily a racially motivated case, but possibility a misunderstood perception. Since her mother stated her son is "...mentally delayed and sight-impaired," the policeman may have misinterpreted his social behavior and psychological reaction when they saw each other. The child may have been conditioned to fear police, although not necessarily conditioned to disrespect authority. On the other hand, this policeman may not be familiar or not having been trained how to approach people with or without visible and invisible disabilities. Hence, allegations of racism may not be necessarily warranted because there are so many emotionally-charged reactions that overcomes the ability to reason and sort out the facts straight. Why spotlight mistakes on the policeman? It could be perceived as a shame to spotlight mistakes on the boy, but it's not a shame to spotlight reasonable accommodations to educate us how to avoid misunderstandings against each other.

  • THEREALND Mishawaka, IN
    June 13, 2019 4:55 a.m.

    Is failure to turn on your body camera not a violation of police policy? It should be.

  • ducklady salt lake city, UT
    June 13, 2019 4:00 a.m.

    Mom was quick to hire an attorney, Lawsuit already? I say let a review happen, listen to the dispatch call recordings. Find out what the officers were pursuing in the first place. And btw, these two other fellows that decided to come forth just now, I question the validity of their claims to having been in the area at the time. Are there store or home cameras nearby to prove this?

  • BigLib Salt Lake City, UT
    June 13, 2019 12:49 a.m.

    The officer was right to be cautious in a situation where his life or the life of others was possibly in danger. Doesn't matter whether the 10 year old child was black, brown, white, or purple. A child at or near a crime scene could potentially pull out a gun and shoot just as easily as any adult. The officer did not know what to expect with criminal suspects nearby. Better safe than sorry.

  • Ron55 Centerville, UT
    June 12, 2019 11:14 p.m.

    @bamafone - That's because we all make judgments based on race. The problem is when those judgments endanger others. In this case a child had a gun pointed at him based on race alone, even when his height of 4'7" clearly indicated he was a child. Having a gun pointed at a child warrants a strong response.

  • Ron55 Centerville, UT
    June 12, 2019 11:07 p.m.

    @Oh, please! - Please explain how pursuing an investigation will further traumatize the boy. Are you saying that he'll feel better if he's told to act like an apology fixes everything even when there's no meaningful action attached to it? That's an unhealthy pattern for relationships.

  • Ron55 Centerville, UT
    June 12, 2019 11:02 p.m.

    @Oh, please! - the boy is 4'7". That should make it easy to tell he's a child.

  • abrady murray, UT
    June 12, 2019 10:53 p.m.

    *Bamafone-The call to racism is very quick because we live in a country where pretty much everyone is implicitly biased against people of color (that is a scientific fact). The response that it couldn't possibly be racism only perpetrates the problem.

    *Colduphere -I think most people in this situation agree that a review would be great. The mother asked for an investigation because a police office pointed a gun at her 10 year old CHILDs head. Multiple witnesses have corroborated the mother's allegation. The Chief refused to investigate and insisted that the "veteran officer" did not violate any police policies. Something he somehow knew without doing an investigation and no body cam footage...

    Also, as noted above, the problem is not just that he mistook a 10 year old black CHILD for an average height male, but also that he allegedly pointed his gun at the CHILD's head according to multiple witnesses.

    I wonder how different this situation would be if WXPD had simply agreed to follow up on a citizen complaint. Instead the WXPD dug in and refused to do anything serious. Now the situation has escalated. What would a better response from the citizenry have been?

  • Colduphere Gilbert, AZ
    June 12, 2019 9:56 p.m.

    Police officers continue to face such intense scrutiny for every action viewed by the public. It is just fine to review and ask how it could have been handled better, but pretty soon we wont have anyone wanting to take the job unless we support our officers. Things happen very fast. Decisions have to be made with very little information. These officers all want to go home safe to their families and none of them wants to endanger a child or even an innocent bystander. It appears that the information being given shows the officer initially perceived one thing, then determined it was not the suspect they were looking for. That happens every day. Sounds like now it will be blown all out of proportion just to appease the other groups demanding an investigation. What a waste of taxpayer resources.

  • bamafone Salem, UT
    June 12, 2019 9:32 p.m.

    The speed and zeal to call racism is nearly as fast as lightning these days.

  • Oh, please! St. George, UT
    June 12, 2019 8:17 p.m.

    No way for the policeman to know if the boy (who looks a lot older than 10) was developmentally delayed or had any other unusual issues. Unless you want to put those kinds of labels easily seen on children's and adults' clothing (that would be profiling!), the police will have to assume that everyone who looks old enough will be mentally capable to interact appropriately.

    I'm really sorry that this happened to a child or to anyone. However, no one was hurt. The more the mother, ACLU, organizations of whatever keep beating this issue up, the more traumatized the young man will be. Forgive and let it go!

  • ultragrampa Farmington, UT
    June 12, 2019 7:14 p.m.

    Not much point in taxpayers funding every officer having a body camera if those cameras aren't turned on at critical times such as this.

  • Ute Tribe Salt Lake City, UT
    June 12, 2019 7:00 p.m.

    Are Communications between dispatch and officers not recorded? If they are and the description went out as a black male I believe this to be an honest mistake if no such description was given Woods Cross police have a problem.