Dash-cam video documents shooting death of Utah officer
Courts • 17-year-old is charged as an adult with being an accomplice to January killing.
Published: April 16, 2014 05:46PM
Updated: May 12, 2014 01:05PM
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Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride died Jan. 30, 2014, when a suspect opened fire during a traffic stop. Wride was 44.

Provo • Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Cory Wride’s dashboard camera played in the tiny courtroom Wednesday, showing what appeared to be a routine motorist assist.

The grainy video depicted Wride going from his patrol car to a white pickup truck, back and forth three times in the snowy weather, as he tried to identify who was inside the vehicle that had pulled over on a highway near Lehi.

Though the first minutes of the video appeared innocuous enough, everyone who packed into the Provo courtroom knew what was coming.

That video, projected on a large screen Wednesday morning, would document the last moments of Wride’s life.

Minutes passed, the dash-cam fixed on the rear of the pickup truck. Suddenly, the back window slides open.

Two pops are heard. A gasp. Then silence.

Then the pickup truck drove away, setting off a manhunt that turned into a two-county high-speed chase which would leave another officer injured, multiple cars damaged and the gunman fatally wounded.

Dash-cam video from six police officers’ cars was shown throughout the day Wednesday as prosecutors presented evidence from the January shooting spree that allegedly implicates 17-year-old Meagan Dakota Grunwald.

At the end of Grunwald’s preliminary hearing — scheduled to go through Thursday — 4th District Judge Darold McDade will decide if there is probable cause for the teen to stand trial on 12 charges, including aggravated murder for Wride’s death and attempted aggravated murder for the wounding of Utah County Sheriff’s Deputy Greg Sherwood in Santaquin.

According to court documents and police and prosecutors, events began in Utah County at about 1 p.m. on Jan. 30, when Wride stopped his patrol car on State Road 73 about 5 miles west of Lehi to check on a Toyota Tundra pickup truck that was stopped on the shoulder.

Wride was sitting in his patrol car checking information given to him by Grunwald, who was allegedly driving, and 27-year-old Jose Angel Garcia-Jauregui when the man allegedly opened the back sliding window of the truck and began shooting at the officer.

Seven shots were fired toward Wride, Sgt. Scott Finch, with the Utah County Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigations, testified Wednesday. The first two struck the windshield, and killed Wride.

Police believe the girl drove the truck away, and was still at the wheel when they encountered Sherwood in Santaquin.

More than an hour after Wride was killed, Sherwood spotted the white pickup truck near Santaquin and gave chase, according to prosecutors.

Dash-cam video from Sherwood’s patrol vehicle shows he caught up to the pickup truck as it was going west on the town’s Main Street.

Sirens are heard blaring on the dash-cam audio as the pickup truck suddenly slows down — closing distance between the truck and Sherwood’s vehicle — and a pop can be heard. Sherwood’s car then stops.

Moments later, Sherwood informed dispatchers he had been shot through the windshield.

A photo of Sherwood’s vehicle shown in court shows that one bullet hole hit the windshield, and another struck the hood before ricocheting into the windshield.

Finch said the ricocheting bullet struck Sherwood, who underwent two surgeries, one to remove a bullet fragment lodged between his brain and skull.

During cross-examination of Finch, defense attorney Dean Zabriskie asked about the pickup truck’s tinted windows, and if Wride could have seen inside the vehicle.

Zabriskie also asked if the dash-cam video shows whether Garcia-Jauregui pointed the gun at Grunwald.

“I did not see that,” Finch replied.

Zabriskie pointed out there was no evidence indicating whether the gun was ever pointed at the girl or not, but said outside of court it was a “possibility.”

Police believe Garcia-Jauregui — who was the teen’s boyfriend — did all of the shooting during the Jan. 30 crime spree. Grunwald is charged as an accomplice.

Zabriskie told reporters he considers his client “a victim” in the case.

“We have a 17-year-old girl who is now locked in a truck with a lunatic shooting at anything and everything he can,” Zabriskie said.

However, prosecutors have said Grunwald played an active role that day by driving her truck while Garcia-Jauregui fired at police. They also point to dash-cam footage that shows Grunwald running behind Garcia-Jauregui after their truck crashed in Nephi.

“Actions speak louder than words,” Deputy Utah County Attorney Sam Pead said outside of court.

After Sherwood was shot, the police chase continued south on Interstate 15, where the truck’s tires were spiked. The suspects commandeered another vehicle at gunpoint, but that vehicle also was disabled by tire spikes south of Nephi, where Juab County sheriff’s deputies arrested the pair after shooting and wounding Garcia-Jauregui during an exchange of gunfire, according to court documents.

Juab County Sheriff’s Deputy Alan Taylor testified Wednesday that the gunfight ensued after Garcia-Jauregui jumped from the car, followed by Grunwald.

Taylor said that although Garcia-Jauregui was wounded in the head, he was still conscious and struggling when Taylor approached and handcuffed him.

After asking for a drink of water, Garcia-Jauregui asked, according to Taylor: “Why don’t you let me kiss my girlfriend with my last dying breath?”

“I just said, that’s not going to happen,” Taylor testified.

Garcia-Jauregui died at a hospital the next day.

Grunwald, who is being held at the Salt Lake County jail, faces a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole if convicted of aggravated murder. Because she is a minor, she is not eligible for the death penalty.

Along with the aggravated murder charge, an amended information filed Tuesday also charges Grunwald with two counts of attempted aggravated murder, three counts of felony discharge of a firearm, two counts of criminal mischief, aggravated robbery, failure to respond to an officer, possession or use of a controlled substance and violation of operator duties after an accident.

Pead said Tuesday that the amended information differs from the original charges in that two charges of obstruction of justice and one charge of discharge of a firearm were removed because they overlapped with other charges, and one count of criminal mischief was added to account for another vehicle that was allegedly damaged during the crime spree.

According to charging documents, Grunwald and Garcia-Jauregui had been living together for several months at the teen’s mother’s home in Draper. The couple planned to wed when Grunwald turned 18 in August.

The girl’s grandmother, Renate Grunwald, has told The Salt Lake Tribune that her granddaughter met Garcia-Jauregui six months before the fatal shooting. Both were working at a meat packaging plant in Draper.

Renate Grunwald said when Garcia-Jauregui moved into Grunwald’s home, it set off a conflict between her parents, Jerry Grunwald and Tori Grunwald. Jerry — who is Renate’s son — wanted Garcia-Jauregui out of the house but, according to Renate, Tori wanted to let him stay.

Garcia-Jauregui was paroled in December 2012 from the Utah State Prison after serving five years of a one-to-15-year sentence for 2008 convictions for attempted murder and aggravated assault.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller