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Fatal officer-involved shooting in Syracuse ruled justified

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Posted at 8:46 PM, Feb 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-04 22:46:06-05

SYRACUSE, Utah – The Utah Attorney General’s Office released a letter Wednesday stating that an officer-involved shooting that left a man dead in January was justified.

Thomas Hamby was shot by police on January 8 after multiple officers responded to a call regarding a male who was reportedly hallucinating and had a shotgun. The shooting occurred on a Thursday, and the following Monday police stated Hamby died of injuries suffered in the shooting.

Three officers responded to the call and took positions behind police vehicles in front of the home. The responding officers were Jennifer Walker of the Syracuse Police Department, Deputy Joshua McEwen of the Davis County Sheriff’s Office and Deputy Neil Major of the Davis County Sheriff’s Office.

The letter from Spencer E. Austin, Chief of the Criminal Division at the Utah AG’s Office, stated the porch light of the home was on, which gave officers clear visibility of the front door area. Dispatch officials advised police that Hamby had indicated he would shoot officers if they entered his residence.

The officers observed Hamby coming out of his front door, “with a rifle in firing position and aimed the rifle at Officer Walker. Officer Walker verbally commanded Hamby to put his weapon down and show his hands.”

All three officers and several additional witnesses reported that Hamby fired his rifle first and that the officers returned fire. Audio from body cameras supported the accounts stating Hamby fired first.

The letter states Hamby was knocked to the ground as police returned fire. As he lay there, officers saw the barrel of the rifle “raise toward the officers, at which time a second set of shots were fired by Officer Walker and Deputy McEwen.” Casings from Hamby’s .22 rifle were located at the scene.

Austin states in the letter that they have found that all three officers acted lawfully in their use of deadly force and did so to prevent death or serious injury to themselves and others.