Officer will not be charged in shooting; refused to speak to investigators
(KUTV) — No charges will be filed against a West Valley City police officer, who fired a shot that killed 20-year-old Elijah Smith last April, and who refused to speak to investigators in the case.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill made the announcement Friday, using three police body cam videos to elaborate on his decision.
Notably, the DA said the officer declined requests from investigators for an interview, while two other police officers present at the shooting—-one who fired a taser at Smith, and another who did not fire—agreed to speak with investigators.
Bret Rawson, general counsel for the Fraternal Order of Police, said officers “have a constitutional right not to speak about their actions and activities,” and signaled it may become more common. “I believe there’s a lack of trust with this district attorney.“
His comments came as Rawson prepared chicken for an FOP barbecue fundraiser at a park in Draper, and as the police organization actively supports Gill’s GOP opponent. Rawson, himself, once vied to become Utah Attorney General as a Republican.
2News asked Rawson if Gill is anti-cop.
“I believe he is,” he replied.
“Absolutely not,” said Gill, a Democrat. “I work with law-enforcement, I don’t work for law-enforcement.”
The DA said he’s reviewed more than 60 officer-involved shootings in his eight years in office, and filed charges in just a sliver of them.
“If you were saying you were not going to share what happens when somebody has been killed, because of me or my office, then who is the victim here?“ Gill said. “It’s our community.”
Smith was a shoplifting suspect when he entered a family’s home, with young children inside. Officers went into the home, entered the garage and repeatedly told Smith to put up his hands.
He immediately raised his left hand, but not his right, eventually pulling it quickly from a pocket while holding a screwdriver, when Officer Nicholaus Green fired three times. One of the bullets hit Smith in the neck, killing him.j
Green, according to a West Valley PD spokeswoman, remains on “modified assignment pending the results of our internal review.”
The other two officers are on regular duty.