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Salt Lake County D.A. clears 15 officers in death of downtown shooting spree suspect

Posted at 10:02 PM, Feb 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-15 00:21:13-05

SOUTH SALT LAKE — The Salt Lake County District Attorney has cleared more than a dozen officers and troopers involved in a 2019 officer-involved critical incident that killed an active shooter in South Salt Lake.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill also showed new surveillance video and released details about the situation.

He read a letter from family of the man killed, Harold Robinson, as they expressed why they felt this incident could have been prevented.

On April 8, 2019, surveillance video shows Robinson leaving Duchesne in the early morning. The incident report stated Robinson called his family to tell them, "he was feeling anxious, agitated and needed to go for a drive to calm down."

According to police and the DA's office, Robinson drove to the Salt Lake Valley, and robbed a gas station at gun point in Taylorsville.

He then drove to a gas station in Millcreek, according Gill, robbed the store at gunpoint and fired a shot inside. Surveillance shows Robinson leaving with alcohol.

Witnesses then reported a white truck driving around downtown Salt Lake City, driving erratically and the driver firing a rifle into the air, at buildings, at oncoming traffic and toward a police officer.

Gill said Robinson fired around 50 shots, but did not hit any people.

Police rammed Robinson on State Street near 3300 South, causing him to crash into a business.

Fifteen officers from agencies that included Salt Lake City Police, Unified Police and Utah Highway Patrol fired 196 rounds at the truck, killing Robinson.

Officers later said during interviews Robinson looked like he was reaching for a weapon, and that he got out of the truck, then back in. They explained that because Robinson had been firing at civilians and officers, he needed to be stopped.

The officers also told investigators that they feared Robinson would continue to shoot and potentially put civilians' lives in danger.

Gill indicated that's why he ruled the use of force by each of the 15 officers, justified.

"When you have somebody who has fired multiple times into a crowd indiscriminately-- that threat is present and persistent, and has been demonstrated," Gill said, during Friday's press conference. "I think the officers are reacting to that threat."

When asked if the sheer number of shots was necessary, Gill responded that the situation was complex and officers acted how they could, to stop the threat.

Gill announced Friday that officers found three guns in Robinson's truck, including a long rifle, shotgun and handgun.

He read a letter Robinson's family sent his office, explaining that they tried to get Robinson help in the months before the shooting. They wrote that Robinson was admitted to a mental health facility, but released within days.

In the letter, the family said they expressed their deepest sympathy and apologized for any fear or distress suffered by the people who witnessed the shooting or were involved.

His family said they pray that this tragic event will raise awareness around the damages of mental illness, and the effects it has on an individual, their family and the community.

"The event may have been prevented," Gill said, reading the letter. "We would still have our beloved friend and family member."