WEST JORDAN, Utah — A West Jordan Police Department officer was justified in the fatal shooting of a vehicle theft suspect in August, the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office announced Friday.
Officers stopped the stolen truck in a neighborhood on the evening of August 2.
Footage taken from a dashboard-mounted camera shows an officer standing at the driver's side window of the stolen vehicle and talking with the suspect, later identified as Cyrus Carpenter. Carpenter produced a gun and opened fire on the officer, who suffered a gunshot wound that fractured a rib and two of his vertebrae.
Officer Gage Hoogveldt, who had been talking with passengers in the truck before Carpenter opened fire, moved to the front of the truck and exchanged gunfire with Carpenter.
"Mr. Carpenter moved away from the truck, still pointing his gun at Officer Hoogveldt who continued to fire at Mr. Carpenter. Mr. Carpenter crossed the street and Officer Hoogveldt paused firing to reload his weapon. As he did so, Mr. Carpenter fired his gun at Officer Hoogveldt. In a subsequent interview with Protocol investigators, Officer Hoogveldt said he heard a bullet fly past his head," a report from the District Attorney's Office says.
Officer Hoogveldt continued firing at Carpenter, who moved into the side yard of a home, out of Hoogveldt's view.
Officer Hoogveldt instructed other officers to attend to the injured officer and the passengers in the stolen truck as he and another officer pursued Carpenter. Police administered first aid for Carpenter, who suffered seven gunshot wounds in the altercation, but Carpenter died of his injuries.
Salt Lake City Police investigated Officer Hoogveldt's use of deadly force, per a protocol that requires an outside agency to investigate officer-involved critical incidents.
After reviewing the findings of the investigation, the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office opted not to file charges against Hoogveldt.
"If charges were filed against the officer for his use of deadly force, we believe all the facts of this matter, together with reasonable inferences supported by those facts, would provide a reasonable basis for a jury (or other finder of fact) to conclude that Officer Hoogveldt used deadly force because he reasonably believed that deadly force was necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to himself and others," the report states. "As such, the facts meet the elements of the affirmative legal defense of justification and afford Officer Hoogveldt the legal defense to a criminal charge. Because Officer Hoogveldt's justified use of deadly force constitutes a legal defense, we decline to file a criminal charge against Officer Hoogveldt in this matter."