DA expects decisions on whether Utah police shootings were justified within weeks

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DA expects decisions on whether 8 Utah police shootings were justified within weeks. (Photo: KUTV)

The district attorney’s office still has eight officer-involved shootings under review from last year, although several rulings are imminent.

“We’ve got about two or three that we’ll get done in the next week to two weeks,” said Sim Gill, Salt Lake County District Attorney. “We’ll be left with three to four stragglers from last year that are a little bit nuanced and complicated, and our team continues to work on them as quickly as we can.”

The cases come from a handful of agencies, including Salt Lake City, Unified and West Jordan police departments. They stretch from April to November 2018.

The DA determines whether the shooting was justified, and if not, whether any charges are appropriate.

“Sometimes the truth is easy,” Gill said. “Sometimes it’s a little bit more nuanced, and you have to sift through it.”

The grassroots group Utah Against Police Brutality is anxiously awaiting the outcome of one case in particular – Cody Belgard, who was killed in November after an officer yelled “he’s got a gun,” even though he did not.

Carly Haldeman, one of the group’s organizers, said family members “are exceptionally frustrated. They’re still at a loss to know why their loved one was shot.”

Messages for the Salt Lake Police Association and Utah State Fraternal Order of Police were not returned Friday.

Gill pointed out his office has already completed reviews of 13 of last year’s record 21 officer-involved shooting cases.

“Most reviews, historically... once the presentment has happened, generally 10 to 30 days, and we’ve been able to return most of those back.”

Only one officer-involved shooting has happened so far this year, which was Monday’s shootout.

The investigation must be complete before the DA can review it.

Gill said the oldest case – from April 2018 – required an out-of-state subject matter expert.

“That’s the one that’s been hanging out for the longest, but we think we’re going to be bringing that to a conclusion in the very near future,” Gill said.

“At the end of the day, really, it’s about a commitment to the process,” he said, “and sometimes the process is quick, sometimes the process is slow, but the process is something that has to be objective, defensible and transparent and shared with our community.”

Here are the eight cases currently under review by the DA’s office:

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