CRIME

DA: Unified officer was not justified in shooting death of Salt Lake man

Mar 5, 2021, 1:21 PM
taylorsville officer involved shooting ruled not justified...
Photo: Sean Moody, KSL TV

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah — A Unified officer who shot and killed an unarmed Salt Lake man last year was not justified in the use of deadly force during that shooting, the Salt Lake County District Attorney announced Friday. 

However, DA Sim Gill said his office would not pursue criminal charges against the officer, Omar Flores. 

“We don’t believe a jury would convict Officer Flores of murder or another criminal charge,” Gill said Friday. 

Gill’s office released its decision Friday, calling the case “challenging.” 

Shooting found not justified

The shooting occurred March 21, 2020, in response to calls to 911 about gunshots in the area of 6200 S. Bangerter Highway. Witnesses reported hearing the gunfire, following by a car speeding off. Police eventually caught up with Bryan Ulysses Pena-Valencia, 28, of Salt Lake City, after the car crashed. 

According to the report, the car crashed near 6300 South and 3200 West, and the driver got out and ran. Flores followed, climbing a fence to pursue Pena-Valencia. 

Investigators believe the act of scaling the fence knocked Flores’ body camera off of his uniform, which means there is no body camera video of the shooting itself. 

Refusing to comply

The report states Flores used a Taser twice to confront Pena-Valencia and stop him from fleeing, after which Pena-Valencia said, “OK, OK, I give up,” but then proceeded to try to climb a second fence. 

Even after a second officer arrived, Flores said Pena-Valencia continued to defy their orders to lay down or show his hands, and moved his hands in a downward direction. 

“I thought or believed he was reaching for a firearm and I would be shot. I feared my partner would be shot,” Flores told investigators in a written statement.

No criminal intent

In the report, Gill said Flores’ belief that his life was in danger was not enough to justify the shooting. 

“[He] was nevertheless factually, objectively wrong about the necessity for him to use deadly force. Mr. Valencia did not and could not have threatened officer Flores or (the other officer) with death or serious bodily injury because Mr. Valencia did not have the means to do so. Mr. Valencia did not have a gun and could not have shot either officer.”

However, Gill also noted no evidence suggests Flores acted with any kind of criminal intent, which is why he did not file charges. 

Crime

Pictured here are items seized from one of four drug busts authorities in Carbon County conducted o...
Mark Jones

Carbon County authorities make significant drug busts

Authorities in Carbon County, with a search warrant, have conducted four drug busts over the past three weeks.
27 days ago
City hall break-in window was smashed...
Devin Oldroyd

South Weber City Hall break-in causes minor damages

The South Weber City Hall break-in was reported by employees as they were showing up to work Friday morning. Walk-in traffic was closed due to the break-in.
27 days ago
Photo of a Utah highway petrol vehicle...
Dan Bammes

Former Utah Highway Patrol trooper charged with child sexual abuse

A former Utah Highway Patrol trooper is facing charges of child sexual abuse after an investigation. A statement from the Highway Patrol says Trooper Bryan Adams was placed on administrative leave shortly after the agency received a complaint of possible criminal misconduct.
27 days ago
A 38-year-old man was taken into custody Thursday by police after an alleged stabbing incident at P...
Mark Jones

Suspect arrested after allegedly stabbing another man at Pioneer Park

A 38-year-old man was arrested Thursday at Pioneer Park by Salt Lake City Police after an alleged stabbing incident.
28 days ago
A 28-year-old man was taken into custody Wednesday by Salt Lake City Police for allegedly stealing ...
Mark Jones

Man arrested for allegedly stealing a vehicle and assaulting an officer

A 28-year-old man was arrested by Salt Lake City police after he allegedly stole a vehicle in addition to assaulting a police officer.
29 days ago
Lori Vallow Daybell, center, listens during a court hearing in St. Anthony, Idaho, Tuesday, April 1...
Samantha Herrera

Trial venue for Lori Vallow Daybell moved to Ada County

The Lori Vallow Daybell trial will be held in Ada County, beginning October 11. It is scheduled to run through December 16.
29 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Prescription opioid...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
...

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: Key Information Before the Filing Deadline

Businesses can receive a credit of up to $5,000 per employee in 2020 and up to $21,000 per employee in 2021.
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
DA: Unified officer was not justified in shooting death of Salt Lake man