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D.A.: ‘Heroic’ Utah police officer justified in shooting man who stabbed woman

First Published      Last Updated Dec 09 2015 11:54 am

Crime » Authorities call officer who saved victim “heroic.”

A knife blade was plunged into Breann Lasley's abdomen when Salt Lake City police officer Ben Hone ran into her laundry room to find her sitting on the floor and bleeding.

Robert Richard Berger was grasping the handle, his arms and legs wrapped around Lasley from behind to hold her on the floor. As Berger pulled out the knife, his head tipped briefly out from behind Lasley's. Through the dim light filtering in from the rooms upstairs, Hone saw his shot and took it.

Hone's actions, as recounted by Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill and Unified Police investigators, were "heroic," Gill said in a news conference Monday to announce that his office had deemed the fatal shooting on Sept. 23 legally justified.

"I do not use this term lightly," Gill said. "These are the heroic actions of an officer who was well-trained and in the execution of his duties did exactly as he was trained to do."

Gill joined Salt Lake City police Chief Mike Brown and Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder in extending that praise to 28-year-old Lasley and her younger sister, Kayli, who also was attacked by Berger.

"These two sisters are incredible," Gill said.

Breann Lasley was in her bedroom near 800 South and Roberta Street at about 11:45 p.m. Sept. 22, when she thought she heard a man say, "Hey," outside her window, which was partly open, according to a report released by Gill's office and UPD.

Breann Lasley looked out the window of the duplex the sisters had moved into about a week earlier and saw nothing. She was sending a text message to a friend at about midnight when Berger, 48, put a chair next to her window and climbed into her bedroom, saying, "Hey, girl, I'm coming in."

Breann Lasley said she tried to push Berger out of the window, but he already was inside the room. Berger hit Breann several times and demanded her car keys, detectives reported.

Kayli Lasley was in the basement when she heard Breann Lasley screaming. She ran upstairs, but Berger kicked her back down the stairs. Breann screamed at Kayli to call police as Breann and Berger fought, moving out of the bedroom and into the kitchen.

Berger pushed Breann Lasley down the stairs and into the duplex basement, investigators wrote. She got ahold of her phone and called 911 but was able to give only the address while she fought.

Kayli Lasley also tried calling 911 when Berger chased after her. Kayli later told investigators that Berger yelled, "I'm not going to kill you. I'm not going to rape you. Just give me your car keys." He grabbed Kayli's cellphone and threw it.

Breann Lasley tackled Berger, pushing him into the laundry room, investigators wrote. As they wrestled, Kayli Lasley grabbed the legs of a computer desk and hit Berger with them.

Breann Lasley then screamed: "He's got a knife! He's got a knife! He's stabbing me! He's stabbing me!" She told investigators that she told Kayli Lasley to go upstairs.

Berger had stabbed Breann Lasley in the abdomen. She told him he could have anything in the house and offered to give him $1,000 if he would stop stabbing her, investigators reported.

Meanwhile, Kayli Lasley ran outside and screamed for help. A neighbor, Sandy Patterson, told The Tribune that she awoke to Kayli pounding on her door and screaming that her sister was being stabbed. Patterson said she tried to call 911 but couldn't get through.

But she wasn't the only one who heard Kayli Lasley's screams.

Not long before Berger broke into the Lasleys' house, another burglary had been reported at an apartment just two doors away. Berger allegedly had tried to break into a 2-year-old girl's bedroom, but he was chased away by the child's parents. A neighbor of that family told The Tribune that the child's father at one point was using a hammer to fight the suspect through a kitchen window. The parents called 911, and Hone arrived in the neighborhood.

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