A Unified Police Department officer who shot at a man who pulled a shotgun on him during a St. Patrick’s Day traffic stop in Midvale has been cleared by the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office.
District Attorney Sim Gill on Tuesday said UPD officer Daniel Knigge was justified in using deadly force against Sergio Garcia Jr. Garcia was not hit in the altercation and has since been charged in 3rd District Court with attempted aggravated first-degree murder, along with other offenses.
According to Gill’s ruling, Knigge stopped a Jeep Grand Cherokee for expired registration and no insurance in the early morning hours of March 17. During the traffic stop, Garcia, the car’s passenger, allegedly got out of the vehicle and circled around to where the officer was standing, pointing a shotgun at him.
Knigge fired two shots at Garcia, who ducked behind the Jeep but got back up and continued to point the gun at Knigge, according to the ruling. Garcia got back into the vehicle, and the driver tried to flee. Garcia then got in the driver’s seat and continued to drive away while Knigge fired three more shots from his 9 mm service weapon. Garcia eventually abandoned the Jeep and ran on foot. He was later found and arrested.
In an interview after his arrest, Garcia allegedly told investigators that he previously had been pulled over by Knigge,an encounter that resulted in the loss of his car. Garcia said he recognized Knigge from the previous encounter and argued with him during the traffic stop. Although Garcia told police that he didn’t point the shotgun at Knigge, a dashboard camera from Knigge’s cruiser “clearly” showed Garcia twice point the gun at the officer, according to the ruling.
Garcia was charged March 25 with attempted aggravated murder, along with second-degree felony theft by receiving stolen property, second-degree felony carrying a concealed weapon and two counts of failure to stop at the command of police.
A bond hearing for Garcia is scheduled for Friday.