CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Police: man deliberately ran truck into officer weeks after death of Santaquin police Sgt.

May 28, 2024, 10:30 AM

Officials in Ogden are investigating the death of a woman who they believe was hit by a train.  (Ge...

Officials in Ogden are investigating the death of a woman who they believe was hit by a train. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah — A man is under arrest and accused of deliberately hitting a police officer with his truck on Friday. The incident happened less than a month after a semi-truck driver reportedly killed Santaquin Police Sgt. Bill Hooser by intentionally hitting him with the truck.

Arrest attempts

An arresting document said officers with the Unified Police Metro Gang Unit had a federal warrant for Tyson Yellowbear. He was already on bail for a charge of burglary.

Police said they approached a parking lot near 300 E. and E. Helm St. in South Salt Lake when they saw Yellowbear enter his truck.

According to the document, one officer threw a spike strip on the lot’s exit to stop the suspect. Yellowbear reportedly managed to leave the lot as the officer was deploying the strip.

Instead of taking what’s described as “a clear route of escape moving westbound on E. Helm St.,” Yellowbear deliberately hit the officer with his truck, according to the document.

“The [suspect] initially started to turn westbound, however, suddenly veered back eastbound towards the victim and quickly accelerated. The vehicle driven by the [suspect] struck the victim causing him to be thrown over the hood and across the street,” police said.  

Per the document, the officer “was hit with such force that it broke the connector to his police radio and knocked the pistol magazines out of his ballistic vest.”

The vehicle pursuit

Another officer pursued Yellowbear as he drove away and rammed his patrol car into the suspect’s truck to disable it. The second officer sustained some injuries but was able to walk away from his vehicle, police said.

Both officers reportedly followed Yellowbear and attempted an arrest. Police said he “fought with officers, failing to comply with verbal commands.”

The department recommended four charges for Yellowbear — attempted murder, aggravated assault targeting law enforcement with bodily injury, failure to stop at command of law enforcement, and interfering with a peace officer.

Yellowbear could face a life sentence in prison if a jury finds he deliberately hit an officer.

The arresting document said after officers read the suspect his Miranda Rights, he “admitted to knowing that the person he had hit was an officer; however, he denied intentionally hitting the first victim officer.”

The Unified Police Department told KSL Newsradio both officers went to the hospital because of their injuries. Both left the same day.

Similarities to the killing of Santaquin Police Sgt. Bill Hooser

On May 5, Santaquin police Sgt. Bill Hooser died in an incident with similar details.

Police accused semi-truck driver Michael Aaron Jayne of targeting Hooser and killing him. In this case, the officer was pinned between the truck and a patrol car.

Related: Suspect in Sgt. Hooser’s death charged in Utah County

In both the South Salt Lake and Santaquin incidents, the suspects reportedly faced an option to speed away without hitting any officers. However, police said both Jayne and Yellowbear turned the wrong way, angled their vehicles at an officer, accelerated, and deliberately hit the officers.

Is this common?

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said on its website that 114 officers died in the line of duty from being “struck by a vehicle” between 2011 and 2020. That makes 8% of all line-of-duty deaths excluding those caused by COVID-19. 

The last time a Utah officer was intentionally killed by a driver was in 2018. The Utah Law Enforcement Memorial website recognized the victim as South Salt Lake Police Officer David P. Romwell. He died while attempting to stop two burglary suspects, who hit him with their car.

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Police: man deliberately ran truck into officer weeks after death of Santaquin police Sgt.