DA says Murray officer who exchanged gunfire with suspect was legally justified

Posted at 3:13 PM, Jun 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-24 17:13:41-04

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah — The actions of an officer who returned fire after he was shot at by a burglary suspect in Murray earlier this year have been ruled legally justified Friday.

The letter from Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill relates to an incident that occurred in Murray February 21, where  29-year-old Tyler Persellin of Midvale fired shots at an officer before retreating inside a home.

When SWAT later entered the home hours later, Persellin was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

According to the letter, things began when the residents of a home in the area of 600 West and Winchester Street reported a burglary in progress. Persellin was known to the victims, who told police the man owned firearms and may be armed.

When Officer Walker of the Murray Police Department arrived on scene, he approached the home and took cover behind a parked car. When Persellin moved from the home to the garage, Walker saw him through the open door. Walker ordered Persellin to show his hands, and the officer saw the man raise his arm and then saw a muzzle flash and heard a pop.

“The suspect turned and fired at the officer and actually struck him in his holster,” Murray Officer Kenny Bass said in February. “The officer returned fire and the suspect turned around back into the residence and went inside.”

Evidence, including body camera footage and spent shell casings, indicates Persellin fired four shots from a 9mm handgun in the direction of Walker, according to the DA’s letter. Walker fired seven .45 rounds from his weapon in response.

SWAT responded to the address, and after several hours they entered the home. Persellin was found dead inside the residence next to his weapon and a spent 9mm casing. Police said it appears Persellin died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The letter from the DA states that Officer Walker reasonably believed he needed to use deadly force against Persellin, as the suspect was trying to kill the officer.

“As such, Officer Walker’s use of deadly force against Mr. Persellin was ‘justified’ under Utah State law… Accordingly, the District Attorney’s Office declines to file criminal charges and prosecute or otherwise pursue matters against Officer Walker.”