DA: Murray cops justified in separate January shootings
Two Murray police officers involved in separate January shootings were justified in using deadly force, according to the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office.
No one was injured in the first incident, although the female suspect was later killed by Salt Lake City police. In the second, a suicidal male suspect armed with what turned out to be a BB gun was shot twice but survived.
County protocol requires that all officer-involved uses of deadly force be investigated by the involved agency in concert with the District Attorney's Office. The district attorney then reviews the investigation and rules on whether the use of force was justified.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill's review of the case of Officer Sean Malouf, announced Thursday, found that "when the subject confronted him and pointed a firearm at him over the vehicle, Officer Malouf had the reasonable belief that the use of deadly force against the subject was necessary."
Malouf exchanged shots on Jan. 5 with one of two suspects in the holdup of Scaddy's Restaurant near 5430 South and 900 East. No one was struck during the firefight, in which 16 rounds came from Malouf's pistol alone.
At gunpoint, the suspect believed to be 38-year-old Kelly Fay Simons, disguised in male clothing that included a top hat and a "Groucho Marx"-style fake nose, mustache and glasses demanded and received cash from the restaurant's owner. She then fled in a gray car driven by a second suspect, believed to be 40-year-old Sandra Chotia-Thompson.
While responding to a 911 call from the robbery, Malouf spotted the suspect walking in a parking lot about a mile away from the restaurant. The suspect ran toward a car when confronted, and shot at the officer from over the top of the vehicle. He then returned fire.
Both suspects fled the scene on foot, running into a nearby open garage where they took a resident's car and sped away.
Simons and Chotia-Thompson were suspects in a string of Salt Lake Valley holdups late last year and early in January.
On Jan. 9, near Liberty Park, Simons was fatally shot when she allegedly attempted to run down an officer from the Joint Criminal Apprehension Team with her pickup truck.
Chotia-Thompson, 40, was arrested several hours later in a grocery store parking lot. She has been charged with one count of first-degree felony aggravated robbery and has a hearing set for Friday in 3rd District Court. If convicted, she could face up to life in prison.
In the second incident, Shawn Michael Campbell, 37, was shot in the abdomen and left shoulder after he allegedly pointed what appeared to be a pistol toward officers who responded to his address at 4543 S. Creekview Drive (about 400 East) on Jan. 8.
Officers learned after the shooting that Campbell was holding a BB gun.
Campbell called 911 and initially told dispatchers he wanted to die and had a weapon. Eight Murray police officers arrived at Campbell's residence about 1:30 a.m. to find him standing behind a vehicle in the driveway with a pistol in his hands.
Before he was shot by Officer Trent Pearson, Campbell was told repeatedly by police to drop the gun, according to the ruling, which was relayed from Gill's office in a letter to Murray Police Chief Peter Fondaco. The letter is dated Jan. 31 but was made public Thursday.
"The accounts of all officers, as well as witnesses to the incident, are consistent and support Officer Pearson's belief that Campbell was raising the weapon at Officer Pearson at the time commands were made to drop the weapon, which Campbell ignored," Gill's letter said.
Pearson said he trained his rifle's laser sight on Campbell from the moment he saw the pistol in Campbell's hands, according to the letter.
"The gun was pointing directly at me," Pearson is quoted as saying in the letter. "So at that time I realized that my life was in danger. ... [Campbell] had plenty of time to comply, but I thought he was going to shoot me."
The report cites two neighbors who told investigators they awoke to officers yelling "put the gun down" before hearing two shots.
The letter also quotes Campbell, who indicated he agreed with the police action.
"You know there's a guy with a gun, they tell him to drop the gun, he doesn't and he starts to raise his hand I probably would have done the same," Campbell is reported as saying in the letter.
Campbell was charged in 3rd District Court with a third-degree felony count of aggravated assault. He is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 22.