POLICE

Orem police address officer-involved shooting, release dash-cam footage

May 13, 2020, 6:08 PM

OREM – The Orem Police Department provided more information on Wednesday about an officer-involved shooting on 800 North last Friday. They also addressed why potentially relevant details were left out of police documents that were later made public. 

At a news conference, investigators showed a dash-cam video of the officer-involved shooting. It shows the officer opening fire on a truck driven by suspect Sam Bencomo. 

The video appears to show the officer stopping his car in front of Bencomo, who then backs up into the intersection of 800 North and 800 West before driving right into the officer.  Chief Gary Giles said the officer tried to get out of the way, but couldn’t.

“Had the officer gone to his right instead of his left, he would have been hit,” Chief Giles said.

In the video, the officer can be seen trying holster his weapon only to bring it out when the truck nearly hit him.  Julia Jones was in the passenger seat and was reportedly shot in the face, causing serious injuries to her jaw.  Since then, she has had surgery and has been communicating with her family. 

Giles denies that the department was trying to ignore Jones and her injuries.

“Was the Orem Police Department trying to downplay this?  Absolutely not,” he said.

Giles was asked why department spokespeople said no one was significantly injured in the officer-involved shooting on Friday.  He said that, at the time, there was a question about whether officers were injured. The answer was no, they were not. He also said they weren’t sure how Jones was hurt at the time, since she and Bencomo were involved in a crash after Bencomo reportedly tried to hit the officer.

“We didn’t know, initially,” Giles said, “whether that injury was from a gunshot wound or if it was from an accident.

“Initially [on Friday], we were still trying to figure this all out.”

(Sam Bencomo. Credit: Utah County Sheriff’s Office)

As for why the shooting wasn’t mentioned in their probable cause statement, Giles said that report specifically described the reasons they arrested Bencomo.  He said the probable cause statement was never intended to be a full report about the case. 

The investigation into the shooting will be handled by a separate agency.

“There is a second investigation, which is [conducted] by our Officer Involved Critical Incident Protocol Team.  That involves the officer-involved shooting.  That is a separate case, right now,” Giles says.

Giles was also asked if Jones could face charges since she and Bencomo were legally allowed to be together.  Giles says that hasn’t been determined and the investigation is ongoing.

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Orem police address officer-involved shooting, release dash-cam footage