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SLCPD shooting ruled unjustified, but officer will not face charges

(Photo: Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY- Salt Lake City Police officer Brandon Rammell fired a single shot, missing child sex abuse suspect Robert Ortega as he drove away from a Millcreek gas station last year. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill says that shooting was not legally justified, but the officer will not face charges.

Officer Rammell had tried to arrest Ortega, who had a warrant out for violating his parole, after running a routine license plate check. He eventually confronted the suspect at a Chevron on 3300 South on November 3, 2018.

Body camera video shows Rammell chasing the suspect and tazing him, which was ineffective at stopping him.

The two then got into an altercation inside Ortega’s car.

At a news conference on Monday, District Attorney Gill said the officer eventually moved fully outside the car but probably did not realize it and feared he would be dragged and injured as Ortega drove away.

“Although Officer Rammell said he feared for his life, a belief we cannot doubt, the basis…is factually inconsistent with the observable facts. While Officer Rammell acted upon a mistaken belief, there is no evidence that he did so to intentionally violate the law,” Gill says.

Because the DA’s office cannot prove criminal intent, no charges will be filed against the officer, whose bullet hit the driver’s side door of Ortega’s car.

“We believe that Officer Rammell’s body reacted before his mind,” Gill said, while pointing out that time between when the officer was inside and fully outside the car happened quickly.

He also cited body camera footage of Rammell withdrawing his weapon once he learned the suspect was unarmed as further evidence the officer did not act with criminal intent.

Ortega was found a few days after his encounter with the officer.

It’s unclear when Rammell, who has been on leave since the incident, will return to the force.