West Jordan officers were justified in killing gunman who injured officer, DA says
Jan 19, 2024, 2:00 PM | Updated: 2:00 pm
(Pat Reavy, KSL.com)
WEST JORDAN — Two West Jordan police officers were legally justified when they exchanged shots with a suspected car prowler, which resulted in the death of the man and an officer being shot in the leg.
That decision was announced Friday by Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.
On April 22, 2023, officer Chris Trujillo and Sgt. Gary Christensen shot and killed Michael Kenneth Lee, 30, in the area of area of 3258 Jordan Line Parkway.
The officers were originally called about 1 a.m. to the area on a report of a man looking in cars at an apartment complex garage. Police found the man and asked for his name. But after Lee gave a false name, Trujillo — who had arrested Lee just days earlier on a misdemeanor crime — recognized him and told him, “That’s not your name,” the final report into the police shooting states.
The report notes that a few days days before the shooting, Lee — a documented gang member with an extensive criminal history — had given Trujillo a fake name during another arrest, so his real identity “was pretty fresh on (Trujillo’s) mind as he had spent time trying to find out who (Lee) was.”
After calling out Lee for giving a fake name, Lee immediately ran off.
“After a brief pursuit, the officers caught up to him and as they attempted to take him to the ground, Mr. Lee pulled out a gun and fired one round, striking officer Trujillo in the lower leg,” the report states.
“Through the front of my leg out my calf,” the injured officer is heard on body camera video telling others treating him.
Trujillo told investigators that as his partner grabbed Lee’s coat, got in front of him and started to pull him down. “That’s when I saw and heard the muzzle flash from his left side. I felt the heat as the bullet went through my leg. And I just remember thinking, ‘If I let this guy stand up, he’s gonna kill me,'” according to the report. “I truly believe that his intention was to kill me and (my partner).”
Both Trujillo and Christensen returned fire, killing Lee. A third officer on scene, who was the officer who tackled Lee, did not shoot.
A tourniquet was placed on Trujillo’s leg. He was taken to a local hospital where he was treated. He was released that same day.
Lee’s gun was determined to have been recently stolen out of a vehicle. The investigation found that Trujillo fired eight times and Christensen possibly fired twice, although in a written statement he said he shot at Lee once. An autopsy determined that Lee was shot seven times.
During a press conference on Friday announcing his decision, Gill again pleaded with gun owners to properly secure their weapons.
“I have been consistently saying that I have been pleading to our lawful gun owners out there, you have a right to possess a weapon … but there needs to be some responsibility with that. Do not leave your weapons unattended in your cars,” he said. “They’re being stolen and they’re being used in subsequent harm to our civilians and law enforcement.”