SAN JUAN COUNTY, Utah — The only officer charged in connection with a police shooting in Utah last year — when the numbers reached a record high — wasn’t from the state. The shooting didn’t happen last year, and the officer wasn’t charged with killing the man, The Salt Lake Tribunereports.
This 2018 case involves a Colorado deputy who now faces charges for firing through his windshield during a rolling shootout with men in an old Ford Tempo.
While no video footage exists of the chase or shooting, a Tribune review of police reports and interviews investigators conducted with the officer and a person in the other car offers an unusually detailed look at this chaotic case.
The chase ended less than a mile into Utah when Sgt. Edward Oxley of the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office blew out the Tempo’s tire and it crashed.
Inside the vehicle, Fordell Hill had just one bullet left. A passenger, Averill Beletso, said in his interview with investigators that Hill contemplated using it on himself, but instead fired one last shot at Oxley. It missed.
Then the two got out of the car and on the ground, as ordered, but Hill moved as if to get up.
“Get down before I shoot,” Oxley warned. Hill reportedly responded, “You going to shoot me, shoot me.” Oxley fired twice with “no hesitation,” hitting Hill once, Beletso said. Hill’s empty gun was found 5 feet away from his body.
Hill died in Utah within the Navajo Nation. John Huber, the U.S. attorney for Utah at the time, reviewed the case and found Oxley’s actions “negligent, even reckless.” He also decided the shooting was “unquestionably justified.” He declined to file charges.
But the shootout also took place in Colorado, and that’s why the Colorado Bureau of Investigation got involved. In September 2020, prosecutors there charged Oxley, who has since been fired, with two felonies — an act that, as in Colorado, is exceedingly rare in Utah.
Click here to read the full report from the Tribune, a content-sharing partner with FOX 13.