SALT LAKE CITY — A police shooting that put a teen in the hospital was ruled justified today. Salt Lake County District Attorney, Sim Gill, said the officer shot the 17 year old because he was afraid for his life.
Around 2:45 on September 3, Gill said Sgt. Chris McHugh noticed the teenager, referred to as A.J., driving erratically on I-15. He attempted a traffic stop, but the 17 year old took off as soon as McHugh opened his door. That started a police chase with speeds exceeding 100 miles an hour. Gill said the chase ended when A.J. crashed his car near 1300 south.
In the ensuing foot chase McHugh testified that he saw A.J. pull something out of his backpack and put into the front of his pants. He was worried it was a gun. The sergeant also noticed the teen drop a box of bullets out of the same backpack as he was chased.
When A.J. began reaching into his pants again, Gill said the officer was worried he was reaching for a gun and body camera footage shows the man began shouting that A.J. “drop the gun”. He shouted several more times before telling A.J to get on the ground on his stomach. While there the officer holstered his gun, pulling it again when A.J’s hands went back to his pants. That’s when he shot.
In another officer’s video A.J. can be heard telling the man he was reaching for a cellphone, but Gill didn’t believe the story.
“Sgt. McHugh reasonable belief was supported by the fact that a handgun was found on A.J.’s person at the hospital,” Gill said, adding that the gun was found inside the teen’s underwear.
A.J. has since been charged in Juvenile court, although Gill couldn’t release the charges. McHugh was placed on administrative leave for 21 days after the shooting but has since returned.
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