CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Family demands answers, claims Orem PD isn’t acknowledging daughter was injured in shooting

May 11, 2020, 7:18 PM

(Julia Jones, who was reportedly shot in the jaw by an Orem officer. Family photo via Deseret News)

(Julia Jones, who was reportedly shot in the jaw by an Orem officer. Family photo via Deseret News)

OREM – Witnesses are describing what they saw as an Orem Police officer fired his weapon at a driver who was reportedly trying to run him over.  Meanwhile, family members of another person who was reportedly in the car are furious that the Orem PD aren’t even mentioning her.

The probable cause statement says the incident started as a hit and run at Leiva Motors.  It says the owner followed the suspect, Sam Bencomo, to the Fast Gas on State Street, when Bencomo reportedly hit the truck in an effort to get away.  Another officer reportedly spotted Bencomo on 800 North, which is where Matthew Kenison witnessed what happened next.  Kenison says it appeared to him that Bencomo was intending to hit the officer.

“You saw a moment of hesitation then the truck picked up real quick and came at him,” Kenison says.  “I felt like the car could have come in a different direction.”

According to Kenison, the officer ordered Bencomo to stop, but had to jump out of the way when the order was ignored.

Kenison says, “He fired three or four shots.  I didn’t see if it was in the cab or at the car, but it looked to be more at the hood to disable the vehicle so it couldn’t keep charging.”

(Sam Bencomo. Utah County Sheriff’s Office)

There are several details allegedly left out of the PC statement.  It doesn’t mention Bencomo had a passenger during the shooting, nor does it mention anyone was injured.  However, there was someone in the passenger’s seat, and that woman, Julia Jones, was reportedly shot in the face.

Jone’s step-mother, Laura Jones, tells the Deseret News that she was, in no way, trying to hurt the officer.

She says, “In this case, Julia was absolutely a victim.”

The Deseret News reports Julia was still heavily sedated on Monday after having surgery on her jaw Saturday night.  The Jones’ say they were able to visit with her shortly through FaceTime on Mother’s Day.

Whether or not the officer was justified in the shooting is not the issue for the Jones’.  They’re frustrated no one in the Orem PD is acknowledging Julia was there. 

She stated, “We understand mistakes happen.  We just want them to acknowledge it was a mistake.  We’re not looking to end anyone’s career.  Just acknowledge what happened.”

Bencomo was arrested shortly after the shots were fired and booked into the Utah County Jail for attempted murder of an officer.  The Orem Police Department is expected to hold a press conference about the shooting on Wednesday.

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Family demands answers, claims Orem PD isn’t acknowledging daughter was injured in shooting