CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Shooting that wounded 25-year-old with crowbar ruled justified

Aug 6, 2021, 12:55 PM

justified shooting crowbar...

Body camera footage shows a man wielding a crowbar as police yell at him to "Drop it." Photo: KSL NewsRadio screengrab of Salt Lake County District Attorney presentation

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill ruled justified the shooting of a 25-year-old man accused of trying to break into homes with a crowbar in West Valley City in May. 

Gill showed body camera footage from different West Valley City police officers who responded to reports of a man trying to break into homes with a large yellow crowbar on Monday, May 10, 2021. 

Video details shooting of man with crowbar

The video showed the encounter, in which multiple officers responded to the area of 4800 West and Huntington Street in West Valley City. Several people called 911 to report a man with a crowbar trying to break into their homes. When police arrived, they found the man in a driveway, at the same time a homeowner was trying to remove items from his own vehicle. 

Officers could be heard yelling at the man to drop the crowbar repeatedly, before the video showed him running toward one officer with the crowbar raised. 

“All right, here I come,” he can be heard saying on the video. 

One officer attempted to use a taser rather than a gun to subdue the man. Gill said the video shows that attempt did not succeed. 

According to Gill, Denny Clark, the man identified as the shooting victim, only dropped the crowbar after Officer Kurtis Braley opened fire. Braley fired five shots.

Shooting ruled justified

Gill said bullets struck Clark in the elbow and lower abdomen. He survived the shooting. Notably, Gill said, he now faces charges of burglary and assault against a police officer. 

While Clark remains in the Salt Lake County jail on those charges, Gill points out he is presumed innocent. He stressed, however, Clark only dropped the crowbar after being wounded. 

“Mr. Clark did not, at any time prior to the shooting, give any indication that he would comply with orders, stop, or put down the crowbar,” Gill said in his ruling. 

Gill ruled the shooting justified Friday, saying Braley clearly believed the use of force necessary in light of the threat from the crowbar to himself and the other officers. 

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Shooting that wounded 25-year-old with crowbar ruled justified