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Box Elder County deputy cleared in fatal shooting

Published December 7, 2012 10:31 pm

Law enforcement • Sandy man tried to run over officer.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Box Elder County Attorney's Office announced Friday that a deputy was justified in shooting and killing a man who tried to run him over.

County Attorney Stephen Hadfield cleared Deputy Austin Bowcutt in the October death of Sandy resident Troy Clark Burkinshaw, 52.

Bowcutt reasonably believed deadly force was necessary to prevent Burkinshaw from escaping and to prevent death or serious injury to himself, Hadfield wrote in his report.

On the evening of Oct. 26, Bowcutt saw the man outside his Volkswagen Jetta off Highway 13 near Corinne, urinating in plain view. The deputy stopped to give the man a warning and saw a bottle of alcohol inside a brown bag on the floor of the backseat, according to Hadfield. Bowcutt could also smell alcohol and noticed that Burkinshaw seemed nervous.

Burkinshaw told the deputy his name was Troy Clark and gave him an incorrect birthday. The deputy was about to talk to Burkinshaw about the bad information when he took off in his Jetta.

Bowcutt gave chase through Corinne at 40 mph in his patrol truck. He had several opportunities to ram the Jetta but acted appropriately and chose not to, Hadfield wrote.

Instead he boxed Burkinshaw in on a dead-end street near the city cemetery. Bowcutt got out of his patrol car with his gun drawn to arrest Burkinshaw for evading, yelling "Get out of the car" twice, which is clearly audible on the dash-cam video recording, according to the report.

But Burkinshaw backed up his Jetta, apparently to get around Bowcutt's truck, which placed the deputy directly in its path. Bowcutt was pointing his gun at Burkinshaw's windshield as he very slowly drove toward the deputy. The Jetta bumped into the deputy's legs a few times as Bowcutt retreated backward and yelled at Burkinshaw to stop the car.

"Then, when Deputy Bowcutt feels the rev of the engine on his legs, he reasonably feels that his life is in danger and his only option is to use deadly force and fire his weapon," Hadfield wrote. Bowcutt fired three shots at the man, hitting him at least once.

A wounded Burkinshaw drove past the deputy, striking his knee, before stopping against a fence. The driver died from the gunshot wound about five minutes after the pursuit started.

Brigham City and Tremonton police investigated the shooting, with the assistance of a detective from the sheriff's office. Bowcutt had been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

mmcfall@sltrib.com