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DA rules January police shooting in Salt Lake City justified

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill will review whether the shooting of a 13-year-old autistic boy by Salt Lake City Police was justified. (Photo: KSL NewsRadio via Facebook)

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill ruled a Jan. 8 shooting involving a Salt Lake City police officer justified, he said in a news conference Friday. 

The shooting in question resulted in Tyler Webster, 20, being shot twice. He survived. 

Police released body camera footage of the shooting a couple of weeks after it happened. Gill replayed some of that footage in his news conference Friday, and also showed additional footage from another officer. 

According to Gill, the encounter between police and Webster started over a stolen vehicle.  Police affidavits say Webster met a man to speak about purchasing a Mustang, but drove off while the owner was looking under the hood.  Officer Jordan Winegar and Officer Steven Hunter spotted the car and confronted Webster by putting their patrol car right in front of the reportedly stolen vehicle.  Gill says Webster put the car in reverse to get away from the officers, but eventually stopped next to a curb.

When Webster stopped, Gill says the officers approached the car on both sides. 

“The officers could hear Mr. Webster revving the allegedly stolen car engine as though he was trying to flee,” Gill says.

The body camera video shows both officers shouting at Webster, telling him to get out of the car.  Winegar reportedly tried using non-lethal methods to make Webster stop.

Gill says, “Officer Winegar opened the passenger door and, at this point, deployed his taser and fired it at Mr. Webster, but the taser appeared to have no effect.”

That’s when Webster reportedly tried to escape by putting the car into reverse and speeding away.  Normally, Gill says he has a “dim view” of police firing into a moving car, but this case is different because of the open passenger door.  Gill says Officer Winegar was stuck between that door and a guard rail.

“He realizes, ‘I’m going to get caught up and swept up underneath this and get pulled right into the guard rail,” Gill says.  “When [the car] stats to pull him and drag him back into that, that is when it hits his hand and the taser goes off.  [Then], he goes ‘hands on’ with his gun.”

(Tyler Webster, Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office)

Webster is being charged with assault against a peace officer, theft and failure to respond to an officer’s signal to stop.