The Salt Lake City County District Attorney refused to press charges against a Utah police officer who said, “You are about to die, my friend” seconds before shooting a man fatally.
District Attorney Sim Gill announced his decision at a press conference Thursday, saying West Valley City Staff Sgt. Tyler Longman acted within the law when he shot Michael Chad Breinholt in August 2019.
Gill said under current state law Longman’s use of force was justified but called the video of the shooting “disturbing.”
“If you ask me to take off my DA hat, I can take it off.” And can I say that I feel morally comfortable with how it ended here? That there were other ways to avoid this? Yes, ”Gill told reporters.
“If we want different results, which is not unreasonable for us to ask, then we have to change the law.”
Breinholt’s mother, Susan Neese, told KSL she is still haunted by what happened to her son.
“The mental distress he was in and having those last words – ‘you are about to die my friend’ – when he was clearly not among friends or people who cared about me or who were worried, it haunts me and will haunt me forever, ”mentioned.
Breinholt was killed at the city police station after being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. The incident began just before 7 p.m. when an assisted living worker called police to say Breinholt had arrived at the center intoxicated, Gill said at the press conference.
The worker told police that the centre’s security camera caught Breinholt erratically driving his girlfriend’s car and almost crashing into other vehicles in the parking lot, according to Gill.
Two officers responded, one being West Valley City officer Taylor Atkin, Gill said. When the police arrived, Breinholt was walking away from the establishment. Gill said police had investigated drunk driving, placed Breinholt under arrest and took him to the police station for a blood test.
Breinholt, who was handcuffed, was taken to a small room in the basement of the station and ordered to sit on a chair. Gill said officers asked him to take a breathalyzer test, but he refused.
The district attorney said that while officers were trying to get a search warrant for a blood test, Longman arrived to help.
At one point, Breinholt complained about not feeling well and asked to be taken to the Huntsman Institute of Mental Health, Gill said, noting that medical staff had examined him and found nothing. abnormal.
According to the district attorney, Breinholt tried to get up from his chair and chewed on “the power cord of the inoxlyzer”. Breinholt also told police he had a gun in his shoe, but officers ignored him because they had already searched him.
Gill said that while he was handcuffed, Breinholt took off the shoe and picked it up. When an officer attempted to take the shoe, Breinholt twisted in his seat and grabbed the gun from Officer Atkin’s holster, according to the district attorney.
The officer shouted, “Holy shit. He has my gun. He has my gun.”
A fight ensues involving several officers, including Longman. Gill said officers were unable to remove Breinholt’s hand from Atkin’s weapon.
During the chaos, Longman punched Breinholt in the face and at one point he is heard on video saying “you are about to die, my friend” before shooting Breinholt in the head. Gill said it was only seven and a half seconds between Longman entering the room and firing his gun.
“We believe Sergeant Longman was facing a situation of lethal force in which it seemed possible that unless Mr. Breinholt was arrested he would not stop grabbing Constable Atkin’s gun from its holster. “said the district attorney.
Longman told investigators he feared for his life and heard “the urgency” in Atkin’s voice as he struggled with Breinholt.
The West Valley City Police Department did not immediately return a request for comment on Friday. A lawyer for Longman also did not immediately return a request for comment.
A police spokesperson told NBC KSL’s Salt Lake City branch that the department was “happy” with the district attorney’s decision.
“This decision ends a difficult chapter for everyone involved. We are grateful to our officers who serve our community diligently every day, and in the face of incredibly difficult decisions, always doing their best,” said the spokesperson. word.