OREM, Utah – Orem Police Department has released dash camera video of an officer-involved shooting last week, addressing questions directed at the department as to why injuries were not made apparent in the onset.
Tense moments in a newly released dash camera video, paint a vivid picture of the scene last Friday when what started as a hit and run incident turned into a police pursuit and an officer discharging his firearm.
“The first time I saw it, I had a little bit of a gasp,” said Orem Police Chief Gary Giles.
The dashcam video picks up at the intersection of 800 West and 800 North, after the suspect vehicle had already fled from police once and left the scene of an accident.
The officer was eastbound when he saw the suspect vehicle, which was stopped at a traffic light going westbound, and parked his cruiser in front of the suspect’s green pick-up truck.
The officer can be heard yelling, “stop!” He then appears in the left-hand portion of the frame with his gun in hand.
“Stop right now!” He yelled.
The suspect’s vehicle starts to back up as the officer begins to holster his weapon.
You can see the driver make “what appears to be motioning to the officer, as if ‘come on come on,’” Giles said as he waved his hand toward himself.
Then the wheels on the suspect’s car turn, “and goes directly at the officer,” Giles explained.
About one second later, the truck makes contact with the officer, who was unharmed – at least three gunshots can be heard as the officer attempts to deflect the truck.
“One thousand one,” Giles counted the time the officer had to react before being hit. “There’s not a whole lot of thought process that goes into that, that is a reaction of trying to save your life.”
The suspect fled, ultimately colliding with another car in the area of 1600 North and 1000 West, leading to the arrest of Samantha Bencomo.
According to a probable cause statement, Bencomo now faces a handful of charges including two counts for failing to stop at the command of an officer, two counts for failing to remain at the scene of an accident and one count of attempted murder of an officer.
And while Orem Police disclosed shots were fired after the accident happened, they did not disclose whether or not a passenger was involved or if any injuries were sustained – despite the fact that Bencomo’s passenger sustained a gunshot wound to the face.
The details were also left out of the probable cause statement – prompting many, including the passenger’s family, to question why.
“As far as, was Orem Police Department trying to downplay this? Absolutely not, we followed every bit of the protocol we were just really trying to figure out what had happened,” Giles said.
“The facts that the officer shot at the driver and that the passenger was injured during the shooting do not relate to why the driver was arrested,” Giles continued. “At that point, we didn’t know had the injuries occur because of the accident? Had the injuries occurred prior to the accident? Or had the injuries occurred because of a gunshot wound? We still just didn’t know, in all reality, there are multiple things going on and that probable cause statement had to do with Samantha Bencomo.”
Giles continued, saying the probable cause statement only contained a fraction of information pertinent to the arrest of Bencomo. However, a full police report would contain more details, including shots being fired and a passenger having been injured.
Orem PD said there are two active investigations -- one into the driver, Samantha Bencomo, and another, which is being conducted by the Officer Involved Critical Incident team, which will look into whether or not the officer was justified in firing shots.
According to the passenger’s family, the bullet caused their daughter to lose five teeth and broke her jaw in four places. She is currently in the ICU at Utah Valley Hospital where she will remain for another week.
At this time, Orem PD did not know if the passenger would face charges upon release from the hospital.