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Salt Lake City police officers ruled justified in fatal shooting of veteran

Posted at 5:22 PM, Sep 15, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Criminal charges will not be filed against the two Salt Lake City police officers who shot and killed a military veteran in March of 2022 after a carjacking and shootout.

In a press conference Friday, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said the evidence is clear the officers were justified in using deadly force, but the incident is still a tragedy.

“After having been deployed in four tours of duty in the service of our country, I'm sorry, I'm a little emotional about that, because there's nothing good about what I'm going talk about today," said Gill.

The two officers shared details of the incident in the investigation; after trying to carjack one vehicle on March 26, Matthew Cieslak successfully carjacked another in the area of 600 South and Interstate 15.

Officers attempted to pull Cieslak over, leading to a chase. Soon after, he crashed the vehicle and exchanged gunfire with the officers, which is seen in both of the body camera videos released in April 2022.

Body cam video below shows confrontation with Cieslak:

Body Cam Video

“As they give this information to us, they're starting to recognize that the person that they're engaged with is tactically trained," said Gill. "At this point, I can see that this guy knows what he is doing. He's not just throwing rounds at us. He is firing accurately."

Cieslak died during the confrontation. Neither of the officers were injured.

In April 2022, Cieslak's wife Tesha told FOX 13 News her husband was a veteran. The combat medic served one tour in Iraq and three in Afghanistan. On his last tour he was evacuated out of Afghanistan with a traumatic brain injury and PTSD and he was medically retired in 2017.

“This is a veteran who's done four tours of duty, who was coming from Idaho to Utah with an appointment towards getting help from the VA," said Gills.

A 24/7 confidential crisis phone line just for veterans is in operation just by dialing 988 and then pressing 1. Even those not enrolled in VA benefits or health care are able to receive care.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, help is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-273-TALK. Utahns can also visit Hope4Utah and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center for additional resources. You can also download the SafeUT app for instant, confidential crisis services.