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FOX 13 Investigates: Despite training, SLCPD stands over a stabbing victim instead of giving first aid

Our special report, “When First Responders Wait,” questions when police inaction rises to the level of police misconduct
Posted at 9:30 PM, Aug 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-09 23:23:14-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The victim cried for help.

A 911 caller asked for permission to help.

Even the stabber pleaded for her boyfriend to receive help.

Despite hours of medical training, two white officers with the Salt Lake City Police Department stood over a Black stabbing victim for approximately eight minutes, choosing not to give first aid.

Ryan Outlaw, 39, had already waited approximately 27 minutes for police to arrive after the first 911 call on November 13, 2020.

Anonymous members of the law enforcement community asked FOX 13 News to investigate the police inaction.

“Hi, I have some neighbors fighting in the hallway,” one neighbor described to a SLCPD 911 operator.

“He’s been stabbed!” another called described. “He’s crying for help. He’s limping over to the elevator. He’s crying for an ambulance... Should I go out there and help him?”

“No, I don’t want you to go out there,” the operator responded.

Officers Ian Anderson and Jadah Brown arrived at the Covey Apartments on South Temple and activated their body cameras.

According to SLCPD, the reason the response took approximately 27 minutes was because there weren’t any officers available to respond for 20 minutes.

“What happened man?” Officer Anderson asked. “Hey, talk to me man... Ryan, what’s going on man?”

“Do you know what happened at all, Ryan?” Officer Brown asked.

“Ryan, crawl out of the elevator okay?” Officer Anderson said. “Hey, come this way.”

The officers likely did not yet know his girlfriend, Fernanda Tobar, was the stabber.

She stayed behind and vaguely answered questions, begging the officers to give first aid.

“You’re not doing anything about it!” Tobar yelled.

“What am I supposed to do?” Officer Anderson responded. “We have medical coming.”

The officers took turns asking Tobar questions as the second officer stood over the victim, asking questions and giving commands but never touching him.

“Why are you letting him just lay like that?” Tobar asked again, minutes later.

Officer Anderson stuck to his story.

“We’re not paramedics,” he said. “We have medical on the way.”

Body camera video shows Outlaw was responsive.

“They stabbed my stomach!” he cried.

“Who did?” asked Officer Brown.

“I don’t know,” Outlaw responded.

“You don’t know?” asked Officer Brown.

“Help!” Outlaw cried. “I can’t breathe!”

“Okay, I’ve got medical – they're right outside,” responded Officer Brown.

Paramedics walked into the apartment complex approximately 90 seconds after that exchange, about eight minutes after police arrived.

Outlaw died 2 hours, 10 minutes after the first 911 call.

“He had a twin brother, and he had four boys,” said his father, Willie Outlaw. “He was a people’s person. Everybody loved him.”

“We did everything together,” said brother Brian Outlaw. “I don’t have my best friend anymore.”

The Outlaw family lives primarily in Mississippi. They said they had never seen the body camera video until FOX 13 News showed it to them.

They described the answers they had been receiving from SLCPD about the police response as “vague.”

“It’s just heartbreaking to know that these are the times we’re in,” said Willie Outlaw. “It’s as if he (had) some disease or something... We don’t know if a few more minutes, a few more seconds could have made a difference. We don’t know.”

The family said it was “really surprising” that the story came to FOX 13 News’ attention from other law enforcement officers.

According to SLCPD, Chief Mike Brown was "not available for an interview.”

The department refused to provide a copy of his calendar, arguing that his schedule is “personal” and therefore not a public record.

Rather than answering questions, Chief Brown chose to attend various events including the Pioneer Day parade.

Brent Weisberg, the chief’s spokesperson, sent FOX 13 News an email.

“The women and men of the Salt Lake City Police Department are guardians of our community. They are committed to preserving life,” he wrote in part. “We understand community members may have questions about how our officers responded to assist Mr. Outlaw. As a police department, we stand-by the decisions of our officers... The officers could not allow the elevator doors to close.”

Chris Burbank, the former chief of SLCPD, said he felt the excuse given by his former department was not sufficient.

“If the elevator closing is so important, pull the person out,” Burbank said. “We do that all the time if the victim is in a roadway.”

Statement from Mayor Erin Mendenhall:

Statement from Mayor Erin Mendenhall

Burbank watched the body camera video and said he was shocked and disappointed with what he saw.

“My question throughout the entire video – why did they not do direct pressure?” Burbank asked. “Why are you not paying more attention to this person who is bleeding out in an elevator? … You don’t just allow that to happen and say, ‘Oh, the paramedics are coming eventually.’”

According to Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), all officers go through four hours of basic first aid and CPR training, plus an eight-hour critical tactical care class designed to help trauma patients.

Deputy Director Alex Garcia described the class as “being able to stop bleeds and save lives.”

Garcia did not give an opinion on the SLCPD case but said he is proud of the training his agency gives to officers throughout the state.

“The curriculum we teach we feel puts them in the best position to be successful,” Garcia said. “They’re expected to make a situation better when they arrive to the best of their ability.”

“No matter how much training you get, if you don’t act on it – it's no good,” said Willie Outlaw.

According to records obtained by FOX 13 News, Officers Anderson and Brown have never received disciplinary action.

Burbank said, if he were still chief, he would have handled the situation differently than the current administration.

“The priority of policing is the protection of life. After the fact is solving the crime,” Burbank said. “Everything else is secondary to the well-being of that person. That is so obviously your priority when you walk into that situation that it hurts to watch.”

“Does the police department have a responsibility to address this?” asked FOX 13 News investigative reporter Adam Herbets.

“Oh, without question,” Burbank said. “If they don’t, this just contributes to the further mistrust that exists – the crisis that we’re experiencing in law enforcement today.”

“(This case is) just as dangerous to the well-being of the policing profession as inappropriately shooting somebody,” Burbank added. “I think the most important thing is that this is brought to public light. These are legitimate public questions because those officers did not meet my expectations, and I want to know why.”

The Outlaw family does have an attorney but said they’re not sure what they’re going to do next.

Tobar was convicted earlier this year of manslaughter and will spend up to five years in prison.

Original SLCPD statement:

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