Bodycam shows officers shoot man after mental health crisis team requests police backup
The Salt Lake City Police Department released body camera footage Tuesday that shows officers shoot and critically injure a man Nov. 8 after a mental health outreach team responding to the man requested police assistance.
The 37-year-old man wounded in the shooting appeared to be living in the detached garage of a Sugar House home near 1700 South and 900 East, where the shooting took place, according to the footage.
It’s unclear why the mobile crisis outreach team with Huntsman Mental Health Institute initially responded to the garage. At about 11:32 a.m., the team requested that police assist them as they made contact with the man inside.
Two officers responded to the residence to provide standby assistance, police said. Once they arrived at the garage at about 11:40 a.m., a member of the crisis outreach team spoke with one of them about the man’s recent drug use, prior police interactions and the team’s safety concerns, according to a Tuesday news release from Salt Lake police.
Inside the garage were two Salt Lake officers, two members of the crisis team, and a family member; in the first video, the faces of everyone except the officers and the 37-year-old man are blurred out.
For almost eight minutes, the man talked with a family member as he sat on a bed in the corner of the cluttered space. The conversation is silenced in the footage in an effort to “balance the public interest in the officer-involved critical incident with the privacy interests at stake,” the release states.
Audio begins about seven minutes and 52 seconds into the video. About 33 seconds later, the man makes a sudden movement toward the end of the bed. In response, a social worker standing at the foot of the bed lunges to get out of the way, tripping over a cardboard box, which makes a popping sound.
That’s when the two officers suddenly open fire, with one officer firing about 15 times toward the bed, the footage shows. According to a police news release, both officers fired multiple rounds, striking the man.
After the shots, the man falls to the ground. The two officers repeatedly shout at the man to put his hands on the bed, but the man replies by saying, “Dead, dead, dead,” and, “Can’t move.”
As the man moans and asks for help, one officer says, “You see the gun? Where’s the gun?”
The other replies, “I do not see the gun. I see his hands though.”
“Show us your hands and put your hands on the bed,” one officer says, and the man replies again, “I can’t move.”
At about 11 minutes into the video, the officers drag the man out from his sleeping area. They quickly search him as they continue to look for a gun, then handcuff him. Blood can be seen on the man’s upper back.
In the second video, the officers can be heard asking the man where the gun is after the shooting. The man replies, “It’s not a gun.”
But about 11 minutes and 16 seconds into the video, one officer finds what appears to be a firearm near where the man had landed on the floor. It is unclear if the apparent weapon was ever fired.
The man remains at a local hospital, according to police, and is expected to survive.
“This incident is reflective of how a situation can turn dangerous with no warning,” Police Chief Mike Brown said in a statement Tuesday. “The collaboration our police department has with our own social workers and mental health professionals as well as the mental health service providers in our community is critical to more fully addressing the needs of Salt Lake City, and I am proud of that work.”
“I look forward to the conclusion of the outside, independent investigation in this matter,” Brown’s statement concluded.
Criminal charges are pending, police said, but it is unclear what charges, if any, the man may face. No further information was available Tuesday.
According to the Huntsman Mental Health Institute, when a call comes in to the Utah Crisis Line, which can result in a mobile outreach team deploying, “thorough” risk assessments are conducted over the phone to determine whether it would be safe for a team to respond, Rachel Lucynski, the institute’s director of community crisis services, previously said.
“It is an outlier when law enforcement support and backup is requested, but it does happen,” Lucynski told The Salt Lake Tribune. At the time, Lucynski did not provide more details about the nature of the crisis line call Nov. 8 that later resulted in a police shooting.
This marked the 16th police shooting in Utah so far this year, according to a database maintained by The Salt Lake Tribune.
Correction • Nov. 22, 6 p.m.: The story has been updated to provide more details about the events leading up to and after the police shooting, and correct the location where the man’s apparent weapon was found.