SALT LAKE CITY – Prosecutors say three officers were justified in using deadly force during an officer-involved shooting in Midvale last September. Salt Lake County DA Sim Gill says the officers feared for their safety and won’t be facing criminal charges.
This announcement stems from the shooting of Matthew Cameron Knowlden, who wasn’t the primary suspect officers were looking for. Investigators say Knowlden was the passenger in a stolen car driven by a fugitive who fled from police the previous day. Gill says officers spiked the car’s tires and it eventually stopped in a construction site on 7200 South near 900 West. A witness reported seeing that Knowlden was armed as he fled the scene.
“[The witness] saw the front male passenger (later identified as Knowlden) waving a dark colored gun in his right hand,” Gill says.
Gill says Knowlden ran and UPD Officer Jeffrey Nelson chased, identified himself as an officer and ordered him to drop his gun. However, Knowlden threatened other officers.
“Officer Nelson stated that Mr. Knowlden raised the gun and pointed it north in the direction of where other officers would be arriving and where civilians would be present,” Gill says.
Body camera footage shows Knowlden raised his weapon toward UPD Detective Chelsea Winslow, who was running toward the man with her taser drawn. However, she quickly changed course after seeing a gun pointed toward her and hearing gunfire.
“Detective Winslow said that she both heard the gunshots and felt the concussive pressure of bullets ‘passing to the left side of my upper body,’” according to Gill.
Turns out those bullets came from West Valley Police Detective Alan Belcher, who was behind Winslow. Gill believes Knowlden tried to fire his gun at officers, but wasn’t able to due to the safety being on. Officers slid the gun away from Knowlden after he was down.
Gill says, “That’s when they also learned that the handgun safety was on.”
The reports says the officers fired a total of 31 bullets, with 17 coming from Nelson and Belcher and Winslow each firing seven. Gill says Knowlden was hit five times.
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