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Police release body-cam video from deadly shooting

WEST VALLEY CITY — Police have released three separate body camera videos from a shooting earlier this month in which officers killed a man who broke into a home with three children inside.

The footage shows West Valley City officers approaching the home on Jennelles Bay, where they believed a suspect, later identified as Elijah Smith, had fled after a cell phone store theft. You hear the first officer knock on the door and identify himself as an officer with West Valley police.

“There’s some – there’s some guy here,” a young teen who answers the door tells the officers. Police told reporters there were three children home at the time, aged 13, 10 and 8, with no adults.

They enter the home, asking where he is, and are told their suspect is in the garage. A small dog enters the kitchen from the garage through a doggy door.

At several points, you can hear the officers identify themselves as police and ask the suspect to show himself and put his hands up.

Then one officer tells the other two, “watch out, I’m going to come through,” before he enters the garage.

Next, you see Smith in a gray sweatshirt on the other side of a parked car from the police officers. He puts one hand in the air, but the other remains near his waist, then appears to go into his pocket.

“This right hand continues to grab at something in his pocket.  At which time, he will remove his hand and his elbow will come up towards his shoulder, as if it is a draw-stroke,” according to West Valley Police Lieutenant Kent Stokes.

One of the officers fired three shots; the other deployed a taser, which did not appear to reach Smith.

From two of the body cam videos, you can see and hear the officers radio in “Shots fired, shots fired,” and seek out a tourniquet to assist Smith, who has fallen out of view of the cameras.

Smith’s family had urged police to release the videos, claiming the shooting was unjustified.  West Valley Police Chief Colleen Jacobs disagrees, saying she believes the officer who fired his weapon followed proper protocol.

“The first officer in switched from his firearm to his taser, so, we had a less lethal option available to us.  The other two remained with their guns out,” Jacobs says, at a news conference.

 

At a news conference, Jacobs says there was an item found near Smith after the shots were fired.  She says, “It was a screwdriver with a black handle and a silver shaft.  It was modified with a black item at the end of it.”

 

CONTRIBUTING: Becky Bruce