(KCPW News) For the second time this month, the Salt Lake County District Attorney has declared an officer-involved shooting unjustified. Sim Gill says his office found that Jared Cardon, a West Valley City police officer who fired his gun at a fleeing vehicle on May 24th, wasn’t legally justified in doing so, because he didn’t have a reasonable belief his life was in immediate danger. He says several civilian witnesses confirmed the car was not traveling toward Cardon.
“One of them said they actually saw the vehicle actually trying to avoid the officer and the incoming shots and that he didn’t accelerate towards the officer, and that the officer was not in front of the car and the vehicle did not make any movement towards the officer,” Gill told KCPW.
Gill says Cardon reported firing only one shot at the car driven by Jose Contreras, when the investigation shows he fired at least three. The report also says he didn’t have probable cause to believe Contreras had committed a felony.
Gill says he’s investigating each officer-involved shooting carefully because he wants to make sure the integrity of the law enforcement system stays intact.
“It’s not a warning to anyone,” says Gill. “It’s just simply an affirmation of our system the way it is supposed to work, which is when shootings are justified, they will be called as justified, and when they are unjustified they will be called as unjustified. To do otherwise would be to lose the respect of our community, which has great expectations for the use of this deadly force.”
The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office is now looking into pursuing criminal charges. In a statement, West Valley Police Chief Thayle “Buzz” Nielsen says an internal investigation is also being conducted, and Cardon will continue to remain on paid administrative leave.