Holladay shooting justified, but prosecutor still “troubled”

May 20, 2021, 3:00 PM | Updated: Dec 29, 2022, 12:15 pm

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill speaking to media on May 20, 2021. (PHOTO: Kristin Murp...

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill speaking to media on May 20, 2021. (PHOTO: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(PHOTO: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A police shooting in Holladay that killed an armed, suicidal man has been ruled justified by Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, but he also wrote in his report that the outcome leaves him “troubled.”

The shooting took place Aug. 8, 2020. Members of the Unified Police Department initially responded to reports of a suicidal man, Gill said.

The Holladay shooting, deconstructed

According to Gill, the first call for help came from the wife of Matt Hilbelink, 39. She called 911 after receiving a text from Hilbelink, showing her a photo of the gun he said he’d just bought. In the text message, he indicated he planned to take his own life. 

Hilbelink’s wife used an app to track his phone, then relayed the information to dispatchers. Police found him sitting on the ground at a parking lot at 6510 S. Millrock Drive, holding a gun.

According to Gill’s final report, three officers established a position behind a police truck and worked for 24 minutes to try to get him to drop the weapon. 

“Instead, he kept the weapon in his right hand, often with his finger on the trigger, throughout the incident,” the report said. 

“Thousand-yard stare”

The report says Hilbelink continued to switch from pointing his gun at police, to putting the gun’s muzzle in his mouth, then placing it back in his lap. According to the report, the turning point came when the officers noted a changing expression on Hilbelink’s face: a “thousand-yard stare.” 

He raised the gun and pointed it at one of the officers again. In a written statement provided to the district attorney’s office conducting the investigation, Officer Dave Jaroscak said it appeared Hilbelink was aiming directly at another officer, whose upper body, face and head were exposed. 

“I believed that Hilbelink was about to shoot (him) if immediate action wasn’t taken,” Jaroscak wrote. 

On body camera video, Jaroscak’s voice relayed that concern. 

“It looks like he’s getting ready to pop one off,” Jaroscak said. “He’s gonna kill one of us first.” 

Jaroscak fired one round, killing Hilbelink. 

Holladay shooting justified, but “troubled” outcome

The report ruled the Holladay shooting justified, but according to Gill, also troubled. 

“At the end of the day, when we’re troubled with the outcome in which a suicidal man with a gun is shot and killed by police, we have to ask, ‘Could this have ended differently?'” Gill wrote in the report. 

A sergeant who responded to the call that day said in spite of efforts to communicate with Hilbelink, he never responded to police. 

“We’re making communication with him, constantly talking to him, trying to get him to talk to us. He won’t talk,” the sergeant told investigators, describing Hilbelink as “fidgeting with his gun.” 

They talked to him about hiking, based off information from dispatchers that he liked to hike. He did not respond. 

“He just wouldn’t take it. And he just kept looking at us like he was … kind of that zombie kind of look. There was no one home, it seemed like. Like a man totally lost,” a second sergeant said. 

Asking “the hard questions”

The report said officers considered using a less-lethal round in their exchange with Hilbelink, but worried he would shoot regardless of whether they used lethal force or not. 

After Jaroscak fired, police checked Hilbelink’s gun. They found it loaded, with a round in the chamber. 

Gill said he called the shooting troubling to help improve police response and start a conversation. 

“We take the time to reflect and invite discussion about how the police responded to the incident and why they did what they did, because having reviewed scores of police shootings resulting in the deaths of members of the community, we believe everyone … will be better for having asked the hard questions,” he said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Crime, Police + Courts

Attendees scatter after gunfire rang out during a campaign rally for Republican presidential candid...

Simone Seikaly

LISTEN: Update on victims of the Pennsylvania rally shooting

Along with former President Trump, two other people were injured after a shooting at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday.

5 hours ago

A United States District Court judge has dismissed the classified documents case against former Pre...

Devin Oldroyd and Mariah Maynes

Classified documents case against former President Donald Trump dismissed

A United States District Court judge has dismissed the classified documents case against former President Donald Trump.

9 hours ago

former president donald trump after his attempted assassination...


Authorities hunt for clues, but motive of man who tried to assassinate Donald Trump remains elusive

Authorities are hunting for any clues about what may have driven Thomas Matthew Crooks to carry out an attempt to assassinate Donald Trump.

10 hours ago

Audience members duck in the crowd during a shooting attempt at a campaign rally for Republican pre...

Kennedy Camarena

Name of man killed in Butler, Pennsylvania campaign rally released

The Pennsylvania governor has released the name of the man who was killed in the Butler, Pennsylvania campaign rally on Saturday.

1 day ago

The FBI has identified a suspect in the shooting that occurred at a campaign rally. Republican pres...

Kennedy Camarena

FBI identifies gunman involved in apparent assassination attempt of former President Trump

The FBI has identified the gunman who was involved with the apparent assassination attempt of former President Donald Trump.

1 day ago

Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump is whisked away by Secret Ser...

Simone Seikaly

PHOTOS: Shots fired at Trump rally, former president injured, spectator killed

Former President Donald Trump was injured by shots that were fired toward a campaign rally stage in Butler, Pa, on Saturday.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

A young woman smiles while reading the menu at a lakeside restaurant, enjoying the panoramic view o...

Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

The best restaurants to try in Bear Lake

Save this guide to the best restaurants in Bear Lake when you need to find a place to dine during your next visit.

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept....

Health Utah

Sustainable weight loss: the science-backed way to achieve it

Learn more about Debbie's weight loss journey with Health Utah, who have a unique weight loss philosophy for success.

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

Holladay shooting justified, but prosecutor still “troubled”