Officer not justified in Kearns shooting, will not face criminal charges

Posted at 7:25 PM, Mar 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-14 01:14:41-04

KEARNS, Utah -- The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s investigation into a Unified Police Officer-involved shooting found the officer's use of force was unjustified.

The officer will not face criminal charges.

DA Sim Gill said UPD detective officer Cordell Whitmore shot 20-year-old Damian Huth in the arm on October 5, 2016, while trying to catch him as he chased him through a park and up a fence.

“All he remembers is he has the gun and he is trying to pull this guy down off the fence and as he is trying to pull him down, he loses his balance and he is on the ground and all he remembers is that the gun has moved from his right hand to his left hand and it’s pointing back like this, and the gun is fired,” DA Sim Gill said.

Gill said that moment proved to investigators Detective Whitmore did not use his gun to defend himself or anyone else, and he also did not fire it with intent to shoot Huth.

Huth was finally stopped.  He survived the gunshot.

“We investigate it and under the state statute, we look to see whether the use of force is justified or not justified," Gill said. "If a person says, ‘I had the gun and I pulled the trigger because I knew he was behind me,’ that is a pretty different mental state.”

The Unified Police Department said it will now do its own internal investigation as to why Detective Whitmore had his weapon out and why he used it.

A department spokesperson says, "An internal investigation includes a review of policy violations that may or may not have occurred during an officer involved critical incident."