District Attorney: One WVC officer cleared in August shooting, another not justified

Posted at 5:11 PM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 21:01:03-05

SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time since August of 2020, we’re getting a look at what happened after two officers shot at a suspect who later died on the scene.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said this was a complicated case to investigate because no officers used body cameras.

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However, with the help of cell phone video, security camera footage and video from the Department of Public Safety helicopter surveying overhead, investigators were able to pull enough together for their review.

More than 25 people were interviewed in the investigation, yet Gill said the two officers from West Valley City employed their constitutional right to remain silent.

Officer Clinton Moore and Sgt. Jason Vincent were part of a team from the West Valley City Police Department working to arrest a suspect named Damien Evans.

Gill said Evans had violated parole and fled supervision, and though other attempts had been made to arrest him, none were successful because it could not be pulled off safely.

In a video shot by police officers in the DPS helicopter, three people can be seen near a car, then Evans takes off running.

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West Valley City Police called in extra resources with a U.S. Marshals team for the arrest, who can be seen trying to cut Evans off as he runs.

As Evans dodges the cars coming at him, Gill said he is seen pulling out a gun.

As Evans runs through a local church parking lot, that is when Gill said the first shots were fired by Sgt. Vincent.

“We do not know why Sgt. Vincent apparently decided to shoot his gun during the incident, and there are not enough facts at present for which reasonable inferences can support a conclusion that Sgt. Vincent reasonably believed he needed to use deadly force," said Gill.

Yet, the shot did not hit Evans, who continued running into an alleyway where he was cornered.

K-9 Officer "Tank" was deployed to stop Evans from climbing over a fence to escape.

At this point, Gill said Evans had put his gun back into his pocket.

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One of the officers interviewed for their review told Gill he heard his colleagues yell commands to Evans, but that Evans did not comply.

"Sgt. Hill said that Mr. Evans turned towards the officers and he heard several gunshots ring," said Gill. "Sgt. Hill said he saw Mr. Evans go down and his gun was halfway out of his pants pocket."

Officer Moore shot Evans six times. One bullet even broke Evan's gun.

Evans died at the scene.

"We believe that the use of deadly force is justified," said Gill.

Gill ruled that Officer Moore was justified, but Sgt. Vincent was not. However, he said his office will not press criminal charges.

A spokeswoman with West Valley City Police sent a statement to FOX 13, which said they are performing an internal review on the two officers that should be completed "in the near future."