Officer not justified in shooting out woman's eye, DA finds
A Morgan County police officer was not "squarely justified" in shooting a woman in the eye following a chase last year, the Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said Tuesday in a news release.
No criminal charges, however, will be filed against Sgt. Daniel Scott Peay.
" ... a unanimous jury would not convict Sergeant Peay of a crime when presented with all of the evidence," Rawlings wrote in his assessment of the officer's actions.
Meanwhile, Kristine Nicole Biggs who survived being shot in the left eye could face up to five years in prison when she is sentenced next month.
Biggs, 41, was charged in Farmington's 2nd District Court with third-degree felony counts of aggravated assault and failure to respond to an officer's signal to stop, along with misdemeanor counts ranging from driving under the influence to driving on a suspended or revoked license and driving with an open alcoholic container.
She resolved the case this month by pleading guilty to failure to respond to an officer's signal and the DUI count. The prosecutors dismissed the assault charges.
Biggs was released from the Davis County jail on Jan. 10 so that she could be extradited to Grand Junction, Colo., in connection with a probation violation following a guilty plea to felony menacing of a wildlife officer with a deadly weapon.
Sentencing on the Utah case is set for Feb. 25 before Judge Michael Allphin.
Biggs was initially in critical condition at an Ogden hospital after being shot by a Morgan County sheriff's deputy in the left eye as she crashed head-on into pursuing police cars.
The chase began about 10 p.m. on Nov. 24, when a Morgan County deputy attempted to pull over the woman's pickup truck for a broken headlight. Instead, Biggs sped away, beginning a 40-mile pursuit that ended in Davis County, police said.
Despite three of the pickup's tires being blown by a spike strips, made a U-turn and allegedly drove at two pursuing Morgan County deputies.
The pickup sideswiped the first cruiser and hit the second nearly head on. The deputy from the first unit, meanwhile, had jumped out of his vehicle.
Davis County sheriff's Capt. Kenneth Payne, whose office is investigating the officer-involved shooting, has said the deputy repeatedly ordered Biggs to turn off the engine and get out of the pickup, but she allegedly kept ramming the second cruiser.
It was then that Peay shot Biggs through her windshield, a decision that Rawlings wrote was likely fueled by Peay's "concerns, fears and analysis of the situation."
"In his mind, he was protecting life from an aggressor in a vehicle that was not going to stop," Rawlings wrote.
But Rawlings concluded: "The Davis County Attorney's Office cannot and will not say that the shooting of Kristine Biggs is squarely justified under the four corners of [Utah's law governing a peace officer's use of deadly force] because we believe that the better and more credible view of the evidence is that it was not justified."
Neither of the Morgan officers was injured.
Tribune reporter Michael McFall contributed to this story.