NewsLocal News

Actions

Body camera footage released after woman's death in police custody ruled homicide

Posted at 8:41 AM, Aug 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-14 22:45:08-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Newly-released body camera footage shows the interaction between Salt Lake City Police officers and a woman whose death was recently ruled a homicide by the medical examiner.

Megan Joyce Mohn, 40, was arrested on Jan. 11 and passed away in the hospital 19 days later.

“Help! They’re going to kill me!” she cries out in the video.

Nearly six months after her death, the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner declared her death a homicide, and determined the cause of her death as "anoxic brain injury” due to “cardiac arrest” due to “probable methamphetamine intoxication in the setting of an altercation involving physical restraint."

Body camera footage was provided from three of the four responding officers. The first officer at the scene did not have a body camera and thus that footage was not provided.

An earlier press release states that officers responded to a call that Mohn was causing a disturbance and attempting to trespass on private property at Marathon Petroleum. A security guard told police Mohn was "walking in circles carrying a piece of rebar" at the intersection of 400 West 900 North.

Footage shows police asking Mohn several times what her name is as she is handcuffed and sitting on the ground. In the video, Mohn would not give her name and tries to get away from officers while screaming for help several times and saying: "I don't want to die."

“Ultimately, he caused her death,” said former Salt Lake City Police chief Chris Burbank. “That interaction caused the death of that woman.”

READ: FOX 13 investigation prompts SLC to open ‘review’ into death of man who officers refused to help

After Mohn continued to not give her name, officers cut off her backpack and moved her to her stomach, at which point she began to kick them, footage shows. She continues screaming for help.

“What entitled you to do that to someone’s possession?” said Burbank. “There’s nothing under the authority of law that allows them to damage her property.”

Officers then handcuffed her feet and applied leg restraints when they noticed she stopped yelling and resisting.

Mohn became unresponsive at that point, police said, and officers began administering first aid. When she was still unresponsive, officers began CPR and Mohn was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

“We have to ask ourselves, ‘Why are we there? Why are we there? Why is it necessary to do it?’” said Burbank. “In this circumstance, it was not.”

At the hospital, officers were told by medical staff that the woman's condition was improving and that she was expected to recover. On Jan. 28, just over two weeks after her arrest, Mohn was moved to the intensive care unit and died two days later.

“It’s revolting. We’re disgusted by it, but we’re also not surprised,” said Adrian Lambrinos with the Salt Lake City branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, an organization that has hosted many protests and events calling for a stop to police brutality.

“What we see in the video when they arrive, they’re already trying to establish a motive for themselves to place her under arrest by getting identification,” he said. “They’re more concerned about that than they are helping the woman.”

Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said in a statement that the investigation is ongoing.

“The Salt Lake City Police Department expresses its condolences to Ms. Mohn’s family," the statement reads. "Ensuring we have a comprehensive investigation into this matter is critical. This case involves many complex factors. I look forward to the full report of the officer-involved-critical-incident and our department’s internal affairs investigation. Our officers work tirelessly every day to live up to the expectations of our community and to fulfill their duties as police officers and public servants. I know they are committed to their jobs and have a strong dedication to our community.”

Officer-involved critical incident protocol was activated on July 29, the day after the medical examiner's report ruled the death a homicide.

Burbank said launching an investigation half a year later shows a lack of accountability.

“It’s a leadership issue,” he said. “If we’re waiting this long to review a circumstance like this and say, ‘Hey, there’s a problem,’ how many times between then and now have officers engaged in similar behavior?”

The full versions of the three bodycams can be viewed below or on the SLCPD YouTube channel.