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Officers fire 196 shots, DA says South Salt Lake shooting justified

(Sim Gill, describing why he believes the shooting of Harold Robinson was justified. Credit: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY – The public is getting one final look into the deadly officer-involved shooting which ended in a deluge of gunfire from more than a dozen officers last April.  The District Attorney is explaining why the use of deadly force was justified, in his opinion.

Prosecutors say police fired 196 rounds when they opened fire on Harold Robinson after he crashed into Princess Alterations on State Street.  County DA Sim Gill says there were so many entry and exit wounds, the Medical Examiner couldn’t specify how many times Robinson was hit.

Gill says, “He could not determine the entry and exit scenarios, but there was an incredible amount of fire power.  That’s pretty obvious and was captured on the video.”

However, Gill says Robinson left officers with no other choice but to shoot.  While on a crime spree that spanned from Taylorsville to Millcreek to Salt Lake City to South Salt Lake, Robinson reportedly fired 50 shots in heavily populated areas.

“We are very, very lucky we didn’t have civilian casualties or citizens being shot, as well as out law enforcement officers, because there were multiple times when the suspect fired into a very crowded city,” according to Gill.

Asked whether or not 196 bullets should be considered as excessive, Gill responded by saying it may seem like a lot, but it’s consistent with the number of officers who were on the scene.

He says, “They had a very viable, not speculative, an actual viable threat that had already fired in our community.”

Robinson started that day over 100 miles away in Duchesne, where his family reportedly told investigators he was feeling anxious and agitated, and he needed to go for a long drive to calm down.

After that, Robinson’s crime spree reportedly happened like this…

Taylorsville

  • Robinson is accused of trying to rob a Holiday Gas station on 4700 South, where he brandished a weapon.

Millcreek

  • Police say he fired one shot inside a 7-11 on 300 South, but no injuries were reported.

Salt Lake City

  • Witnesses say they heard rapid fire near the entrance of the Sheraton Hotel on 500 South. Between eight and ten shots were fired at one specific window on the first floor.
  • Police are called to shots fired in the areas of 500 South and 200 East, as well as 100 South Main Street and 450 South State Street.
  • Officers reportedly begin to chase Robinson after they spotted him heading east on 300 South. Police say he leads them on a chase southbound on State Street, where he shot at the officers going after him.

South Salt Lake

  • Officers attempt a PIT maneuver on Robinson’s truck, causing him to crash into Princess Alterations, where he was shot by officers.

Gill says they can’t determine the specific motive, but Robinson’s family explained he had been going to serious mental health issues.  He was recently admitted to University of Utah Hospital for a few days and seemed calmer when he was discharged.

“The family had tried to get JR help as he seemed unstable for a few months back,” Gill says.

Robinson’s family sent a note to Gill, saying they hope this will bring better awareness to mental health care problems.