CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Deputy charged with manslaughter in 2021 crash that killed a BYU student

Mar 7, 2022, 6:25 PM | Updated: Dec 29, 2022, 11:43 am

The Summit County Attorney's Office file one count of manslaughter Monday against a Utah County She...

The Summit County Attorney's Office file one count of manslaughter Monday against a Utah County Sheriff's Office deputy for his involvement in a crash that killed a 22-year-old BYU student on March 16, 2021. Photo credit: Provo Police Department

PROVO, Utah — A deputy with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office has been charged with one count of manslaughter for his involvement in a crash last year that killed a 22-year-old male, the Summit County Attorney’s Office announced Monday.

Deputy charged in 2021 accident

The second-degree felony charge stems from an accident on March 16, 2021. Joseph Richardson, driving in his own vehicle, was responding to a standoff in Pleasant Grove, in which a man had fired at police and had barricaded himself inside his residence. On his way to the scene, Richardson collided with a vehicle, driven by 22-year-old Joseph Spencer. Spencer was pulling out of Taco Bell at 400 North and 900 East in Provo. Spencer, who was a BYU student, died from injuries sustained in the accident.

According to police documents, Richardson’s Toyota Tacoma was driving 56.5 mph just 4.7 seconds before the collision. Police documents also say that Richardson’s vehicle rose to a speed of 57.8 mph just 2.2 seconds before the crash. The posted speed limit in the area is 35 mph. 

“As I was coming down here I saw him start to pull out in front of me. I shouldn’t… I shouldn’t have tried to beat him,” Richardson said to police according to police documents. 

Due to a potential conflict of interest with the Utah County’s Attorney’s Office, the Summit County Attorney’s Office took over the case earlier this year.

Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith issued the following statement Monday.

“Due to a pending law suit we are not able to say much about this accident,” the statement read. “Our deputy, who has been with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office for 17 years, has been on leave pending the outcome of this investigation since the accident occurred. This incident is a tragedy for all involved. Our hearts are broken for the loss and pain this accident has caused.”

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Deputy charged with manslaughter in 2021 crash that killed a BYU student