SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah — The Salt Lake County District Attorney has ruled that an officer who exchanged gunfire with a suspect in Riverton in January was legally justified in his use of deadly force.
The letter the DA sent to Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera Thursday is in connection to an incident on January 20 that began in Riverton with a burglary investigation and escalated as the suspect fired at police and a homeowner.
Police first encountered Justin G. Llewelyn shortly before 6 a.m. on January 20 after an officer followed footprints in the snow in connection with a vehicle burglary investigation. An officer encountered Llewelyn and ordered him to stop, but the man fled through an apartment complex and fired shots at the officer.
Another officer, Trevor Weeks of Unified Police, responded to the radio call about shots fired and encountered the suspect on Lacey Lane.
“Officer Weeks said the subject immediately raised his hand and fired several shots at him,” the letter from the DA states.
Weeks exited his vehicle and said he yelled “Police! Put down the gun!” but said Llewelyn kept walking. The officer re-engaged the man and ordered him to drop the gun, and he said that’s when Llewelyn started shooting at him again.
Weeks returned fire and fired a total of three shots, as he said it appeared the suspect was advancing on him. After that the suspect turned and walked away, and Weeks did not follow for fear of walking into an ambush.
Llewelyn ultimately escaped containment in the area after shooting and wounding a homeowner and stealing a vehicle. Several of his relatives were charged with obstruction of justice, and he was arrested in Spanish Fork several days later after a police pursuit in which a deputy was injured.
The DA determined from physical evidence that Weeks fired a total of three rounds at Llewelyn, none of which hit the man, and that no other officers involved that day discharged their firearms. Weeks told investigators he feared for his life and returned fire to keep the suspect from shooting him.
The DA states Weeks had reason to believe Llewelyn presented an imminent risk of death or serious bodily injury and that Weeks was therefore legally justified in using deadly force to prevent death or injury to himself or others.