SLC police: officer shoots knife-wielding man after responding to woman’s screams

Posted at 6:43 AM, Jun 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-21 23:28:35-04

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A man is in serious condition after an officer-involved shooting in Salt Lake City Saturday night.

Authorities say a police officer shot a man after the suspect threatened a woman with a knife, then lunged at the officer with the knife.

Salt Lake City Police said things began around 11:59 p.m. Saturday when a police officer in the area of 210 South Rio Grande Street heard a woman scream and saw a man threatening her with a knife.

"He got out of his car and he gave commands to the male to, ‘drop the knife, drop the knife,’ and he did not, and he actually lunged at the officer, and that's when the officer shot the male,” said Robin Heidin with the Salt Lake City Police Department.

Police say the 29-year-old man is homeless. Witnesses report seeing him on the curb with his knife and said they saw or heard gun shots when the officer fired after the man refused to put down the knife.

"I heard three shots and I thought they sounded like fireworks or fire crackers,” said Roger Martinez, a witness. “I came over and everyone was running and making commotion and stuff."

Amber Johnson, another witness, added: "We heard like tons of sirens just like going off everywhere, so we walked down here to see what was going on and this guy was just running up the street."

Some witnesses who say they saw the incident say they didn’t see the man threaten the woman or the officer, and they said the suspect doesn’t speak English very well.

“Police came around the corner, and they told him three times to ‘drop it,’ and he didn't understand what they were saying, so they shot him, right in front of me,” said Irene, a witness. “He didn't threaten nobody, he was standing right on the curb like this, he was just admiring a little pocket knife."

The man, from the shelter area, was taken to a local hospital in serious condition. The woman was not hurt.

“The Unified Police Department will be interviewing him in the next week or two to get his side of the story,” Heiden said. “They have not spoken with him yet.”

Heiden says the officer was not wearing body camera, which will be factored into the investigation.

The investigation is being handled by Unified Police Department. The officer will be on administrative leave until the investigation is complete. Police are asking any witnesses of this incident to call 385-468-9819.