WVC Police Chief speaks about officer-involved shooting

Posted at 7:27 PM, Dec 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-16 21:27:01-05

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah -- West Valley City's Police Chief spoke out Monday about the officer-involved shooting that happened Sunday night near the corner of 3200 West and 3500 South.

Police Chief Lee Russo said he has handled other officer involved shootings before, however, this is his first since taking the top position for West Valley City.

The incident occurred at approximately 7:30 p.m. when a West Valley officer noticed a man demonstrating what he felt was suspicious behavior. When the officer went to question the man, the incident quickly unraveled and turned violent.

"We do have independent witnesses to this event who corroborate the following: They observed dialogue between the officer and the suspect. The individual started to walk away then went back and raised an object that was later determined to be a knife, a fixed-blade knife," said Chief Lee Russo, West Valley Police Department.

Police have not identified the suspect, but said he is a 24-year-old Salt Lake Valley resident. He remains in critical but stable condition.

The suspect's motives are still unclear, but the police chief said to his knowledge, the man did not threaten anyone else.

“I was impressed by the way that the officers were on scene, had organized [and] contained the scene, were isolating witnesses, making sure that evidence was preserved and getting the resources into place,” Russo said. “I believe that our officers acted reasonably. I believe that our department responded to this promptly and is thoroughly investigating it.”

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said he was contacted very quickly and that he thinks Police Chief Russo is committed to following procedure.

The officer involved in the incident remains on paid administrative leave and ultimately the DA with decide whether the officer acted in self-defense and if he was justified.

Related: Man in critical condition after officer-involved shooting