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Utah probation agent charged with felony for shooting parolee

Posted at 11:13 AM, Apr 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-09 19:44:37-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A probation and parole agent from the Utah Department of Corrections is facing a felony charge in connection with a shooting in Murray.

Andrew Reed O'Gwin, 38, has been charged with aggravated assault after an independent investigation by the Salt Lake City Police Department and the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office.

The District Attorney's Office released the results of the investigation Monday, and they found O'Gwin was not justified in his use of deadly force against Joe Alvin Gomez on May 13, 2017.

Kara Porter is the attorney representing Gomez.

"It's a miracle he's alive," said Porter.

According to the report, O'Gwin was stopped at a red light at 4500 S Main St. just after midnight when another car, in which Gomez was a passenger, stopped at the same intersection.

O'Gwin had been assigned to supervise Gomez, who had been recently paroled from the Utah State Prison.

Investigators determined Gomez exited the vehicle he was riding in and stood near O'Gwin's driver's side door.

Gomez told investigators he exited the vehicle because he had been smoking a cigarette and its embers fell in his lap.

Photo: Joe Gomez | Source: Christensen & Jensen

"Gomez said he came out of the car kind of 'crazy' and was yelling because the cigarette was burning him," the probable cause statement said.

O'Gwin reported that Gomez had punched O'Gwin's driver's side window and that he feared for his life.

"Some of the witnesses said Mr. Gomez’s arms were raised and he was yelled something. According to Agent O’Gwin, Mr. Gomez pounded on Agent O’Gwin’s car window. Other witnesses at the scene said that Mr. Gomez never touched Agent O’Gwin’s car," the report said.

"We had a very different kind of explanations in terms of what happened," said Salt Lake County District Attorney, Sim Gill.

According to a statement of probable cause, O'Gwin fired his handgun at Gomez five times, hitting him three times. Gomez got back into the car he had been riding in, and the driver took him to a hospital. Doctors performed several surgeries on Gomez, the report said, and Gomez survived his injuries.

Gomez's story has been corroborated by two uninvolved witnesses. Although Murray City charged him with impeding traffic for getting out of the car.

"If you and I step out of a car and were charged with impeding traffic, that is not an invitation or a license to be shot," said Gill.

Although O'Gwin and Gomez had met in an Adult Probation and Parole office when Gomez was paroled from the Utah State Prison in the previous month, "it appears that neither Agent O’Gwin nor Mr. Gomez recognized each other during the [officer-involved critical incident]," the report said.

O'Gwin is facing aggravated assault charges and could face one to fifteen years in prison if convicted. He's been placed on paid administrative leave. As for Gomez, he just got out of prison.