SALT LAKE CITY — Three police officers were justified in the fatal shooting of a man in Midvale in September, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced Friday.
The officers from the Unified and West Valley City police departments shot and killed 22-year-old Matthew Knowlden after he pointed a weapon at officers during an encounter on Sept. 18, 2020.
Gill said the officers were involved in a multiagency investigation when they located a man who was a suspect who had fled from police the previous day. The suspect, who was not Knowlden, was allegedly involved in a drive-by shooting and robbery.
Knowlden was in a stolen car with the suspect, along with two other passengers.
The group crashed after police attempted to stop their car with spike strips. Unified Police Officer Jeffery Nelson chased Knowlden as he ran from the vehicle.
Nelson said he saw Knowlden with a gun in his hand and demanded he drop the weapon. Instead, Knowlden pointed the gun at Nelson and the officer opened fire.
Unified Detective Chelsea Winslow also fired at Knowlden when the suspect pointed the gun at her. West Valley City Detective Alan Belcher said he shot at Knowlden when he saw him point his gun at Winslow.
The officers fired at Knowlden a total of 31 times, with five bullets striking and killing him.
Although police originally claimed Knowlden fired his gun at the officers, Gill said the suspect's gun was never discharged.
In written statements given to investigators, Nelson and Blecher said they fired at Knowlden because they feared for the safety of those in the area and their own lives.