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Salt Lake County District Attorney will not prosecute police officers in two different shootings from 2018

Posted at 5:00 PM, Feb 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-07 19:00:08-05

SALT LAKE COUNTY — The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday it will not press charges against officers involved in two separate shooting incidents in June and July of 2018. One of the shootings was fatal.

An incident on June 17 involved a Unified Police Department Officer and a South Salt Lake Police Department Officer.

Both Officer Alan Jewett with UPD and Detective Tyler Cluff with SSLPD discharged their firearms at Abel Martinez, who died as a result.

Martinez was living in a halfway house as of May 23, after serving 13 years in prison. He walked away from the halfway house on June 15 and a warrant was put out for his arrest.

On the morning of June 17, 2018, Martinez went to his grandparent’s home and entered it. According to court documents, Martinez “became violent” with his grandparents, killing his grandmother and seriously injuring his grandfather.

Police and a SWAT team responded to the home. Court documents state that when SWAT officers arrived, Martinez appeared to be in the act of killing his grandfather. According to court documents, officers ordered Martinez to stop his attack, and when he did not, Jewett and Cluff discharged their firearms.

Neither Cluff nor Jewett was wearing bodycam footage and both declined to be interviewed during the investigation into the incident. But, based on statements from witnesses and evidence court documents state was gathered from the scene, the District Attorney’s Office believes Jewett and Cluff would be able to claim the use of deadly force was justified in order to prevent the death or serious injury of another person.

The officer-involved incident on July 15 involved a West Valley City Police Officer.

Officer Andrew Swanger with WVCPD discharged his firearm at Ricardo Lopez. Lopez survived his gunshot injuries, according to court documents.

Court documents state that WVCPD tried to pull over a car Lopez was driving. Instead of stopping, Lopez continued to drive to a home in West Valley City, where he then exited the vehicle and ran inside the house.

According to court documents, other officers responded to the scene and made contact with the home’s occupants, who confirmed Lopez was inside the house. Officers contacted Lopez and ordered him to come outside, but court documents state Lopez refused and allegedly threatened to kill the police officers if they came inside for him.

Officers tried to take Lopez into custody using “less-lethal” measures to no avail, according to court documents. Lopez is accused of running toward officers, and Swanger opened fire at Lopez, injuring him, the documents state.

Based on evidence including Swanger’s testimony and witness statements, the District Attorney’s Office believes Swanger can justifiably say deadly force was necessary to prevent death or serious injury to another person. Swanger will not face charges.