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Salt Lake City officers cleared after denying first aid to stabbing victim

Posted at 5:30 PM, Jan 10, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City Police Department has cleared two officers who declined first aid to a stabbing victim who pleaded for help and died in November 2020.

SLCPD's internal affairs division opened the case several months ago in response to a FOX 13 News investigation examining what happened leading up to the death of Ryan Outlaw.

Outlaw had waited approximately 27 minutes for police to arrive after the first 911 call. Police said their response took so long due to a lack of available officers.

“What am I supposed to do?” Anderson is heard saying on body camera video. “We have medical coming.”

The department declined to release five pages of its report detailing statements made by Officer Ian Anderson and Jadah Brown after the incident.

"He's crying for help. He's limping over to the elevator. He's crying for an ambulance," explained a 911 caller. "Should I go out there and help him?!"

Fernanda Tobar, the woman who stabbed Outlaw, repeatedly asked why the officers stood around waiting for paramedics instead of using their own medical training.

Outlaw died at the hospital, two hours and ten minutes after the first 911 call.

The internal affairs investigation focused on whether the officers failed to follow the following policies:

  • Policy 600.3 – Investigation and Prosecution
  • Policy 403.4 – First Responder Considerations
  • Policy 322.4.3 – Discrimination, Oppression, Favoritism
  • Policy 432.3 First Responding Member Responsibilities
  • Policy 310.3 – Domestic Violence Officer Safety

"My question throughout the entire (body camera) video: Why did they not do direct pressure?" asked Chris Burbank, the former SLCPD chief.
Anderson initially wrote in his report that he could not give first aid because he was worried the elevator would close with Outlaw trapped inside.

The internal affairs investigation did not explore the recommendation provided by several FOX 13 News sources, including a former SLCPD internal affairs sergeant, asking why the officers didn't pull Outlaw out of the elevator.

As the case progressed, some said it seemed like Salt Lake City's current mayor and police chief had already made up their minds before the internal investigation was started or finished.

"Absolutely. I stand by these officers and what they did that day," said Chief Brown. "I think they did a great job with what they had."

"Then why open an investigation?" asked FOX 13 News investigative reporter Adam Herbets.

"If there are ways to improve, we will," Chief Brown said.

The internal affairs report did not list ways to improve.

It stated both officers had medical equipment in their cars, but "it would have been unsafe to retrieve it."

The report indicated it would have been unsafe for Officers Jadah Brown and Ian Anderson to separate because they hadn't know yet they already had the suspect in custody.

"Policy 310.3 doesn't define how officers are to provide safety for each other but encourages officers to exercise caution when making these decisions," the report states.

Rocky Anderson, the former mayor of Salt Lake City, said the ruling sets a dangerous precedent. He stated Chief Brown should be fired.

“If I saw something like this going on? Man, heads would roll,” Anderson said. “They’ve got to change their motto from ‘Protect and Serve’ to ‘Stand and Stare,’ because that’s all these officers did.”

When Mayor Erin Mendenhall was asked if she wants SLCPD officers to be able and willing to give first aid, this was her response:

"I want our officers to be safe," she said. "That's their job, and that's what they're training to do."

Ryan Outlaw's father, Willie Outlaw, said he did not know the officers had been cleared until told by FOX 13 News.

He stated he is working with an attorney to figure out next steps.

It's unknown whether the Civilian Review Board will take a closer look at the case.