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SLC cops cleared in downtown shooting

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Posted at 5:54 PM, May 13, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-13 19:54:05-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The district attorney has cleared two police officers involved in a shootout with a man in downtown.

In a letter to Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank on Tuesday, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill ruled the March 28 shooting of Christopher Leo Knight was justified.

The letter states that Officer Moelealaolao Tafisi stopped a 1995 Jeep Cherokee being driven by Francisco Gonzales at 300 S. and West Temple for a broken headlight. Gonzales, the letter said, was wanted on minor traffic warrants.

The passenger in the vehicle gave Officer Tafisi a fake name, Gill said. Tueller arrived to provide backup.

"Officer Tafisi returned to the Jeef and told Knight to get out of the vehicle," Gill wrote. "Knight said: 'No.' Officer Tafisi again ordered Knight out of the car. Knight again said: 'No.' Officer Tafisi and Officer Tueller saw Knight put his hand into his sweatshirt pocket."

Tafisi opened the Jeep's door and tried to remove Knight from the vehicle, Gill wrote. During the struggle, a gun fell out as Knight fell to the ground. Gill said Tafisi yelled: "Gun!"

The officers told investigators Knight picked up the gun and fired several shots. Tafisi fired his weapon back. The letter stated that Knight fired three shots from a stolen handgun, Tafisi fired five shots.

"Officer Tafisi said that he fired at Knight until Knight was 'no longer a threat,'" Gill wrote. Tueller and Tafisi had both been shot. Knight died from his wounds.

The Salt Lake City Police Department said Tuesday both officers remained on leave, recovering from their wounds.