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Charges filed in death of Master Officer Joseph Shinners

Utah County Attorney David Leavitt announces formal charges against Matt Frank Hoover in the murder of Provo Master Officer Joseph Shinners, January 23, 2019

PROVO — Charges have been filed against Matthew Hoover for aggravated murder in the shooting death of Provo Master Officer Joseph Shinners.

In a news conference Wednesday morning, Utah County Attorney David Leavitt announced the defendant, whom he did not reference by name to avoid increasing his notoriety, faces seven charges: aggravated murder, assault of a police officer, possessing a stolen firearm, receiving stolen firearms, felony evading, felony possession of methamphetamine, and felony possession of heroin.

hoover is accused of shooting joseph shinnersIn a probable cause statement obtained by KSL ahead of the news conference, on the night of Jan. 5, Hoover had outstanding warrants and police tried to pull him over, which led to a short chase that ended with a crash in the parking lot of a home goods store.

Orem Police Chief Gary Giles described the events of that pursuit and its aftermath, telling reporters Hoover fired first, but Officer Shinners returned fire. He confirmed Shinners was wearing a ballistic vest, but was shot in the abdomen in an area that was not covered by the vest.

Joseph Shinners shooting police

Provo police officer Joseph Shinners was shot in Orem late Saturday, Jan. 5, 2018, while responding to a report of a wanted fugitive. He later died at Utah Valley Hospital. (Photo: Provo Police Department)

As his fellow officers took Shinners to the hospital, other officers on the scene attended to the defendant, Leavitt says, saying Hoover would have died were it not for the aid he received from those officers. At the emergency room, he was treated in the room next door to Shinners’.

Leavitt says the aggravated murder charge does potentially carry with it the death penalty, though he said it was too early to discuss whether that would be pursued in this case. He named three prosecutors who would lead his office’s work.

According to the probable cause statement, the gun that Hoover used in the shooting was stolen in December of 2017 and was a Ruger .380 pistol, and according to Hoover’s friends, he allegedly called it the “purple people eater” and liked to carry it in his back pocket.

Hoover had multiple warrants out for his arrest and had told other close friends according to the probable cause statement that he would open fire and have a shootout with police to try and commit suicide by cop.

The judge in the case has ordered Hoover to be held without bail.