Officer justified in March shooting that killed Sandy man on I-15
Willard Police Chief Nate Thompson was justified when he shot and killed a Sandy man on Interstate 15, the Box Elder County Attorney's office said Wednesday.
The shooting concluded a three-county high speed chase on March 29 and left 49-year-old Cody Ramseyer dead. Thompson, who was one of several officers on scene, shot Ramseyer twice with an AR-15 assault rifle after he acted aggressively and claimed to have a gun, according to documents released by the Box Elder County Attorney's office.
The documents state that Thompson fired after he had "probable cause" to do so and "reasonably believed" that another officer at the scene was in danger of injury or death.
According to the documents, the incident began around 10 p.m. when dispatchers received word of a reckless driver heading north near Farmington. When police finally caught up to the driver, they found Ramseyer's maroon GMC Denali going more than 100 mph and moving recklessly between lanes. The documents also say Ramseyer ignored police when they turned on their lights and sirens.
At about 10:25 p.m. the Denali careened off the freeway, plowed through a muddy ditch and finally crashed into some trees. Officers from various police departments then converged on the crash site, the documents state.
As the officers were surrounding the Denali, Ramseyer reportedly got out and shouted, "I've got a gun." All four officers, including Thompson, reportedly heard Ramseyer.
The documents state that Ramseyer then began "deliberately advancing" toward a UHP vehicle while shouting profanities and saying he had a gun. He also reportedly yelled, "I am going to kill you," and "just shoot me." Police, who couldn't clearly see Ramseyer through the thick weeds, ordered Ramseyer to drop his gun. He refused, the documents state, and yelled "kill me" as he emerged from the brush.
Ramseyer continued advancing toward the UHP car and trooper, so the trooper shot him with a Taser. The blast knocked him to the ground, but as police approached him he "immediately sprang to his feet and charged full speed" at an officer. A footnote in the documents mentions that all of the officers were surprised by the way he jumped up, describing it as being "like spring steel," "an ejector booster," and "an NFL linebacker going for a quarterback."
A second officer then fired a Taser at Ramseyer, but it had no effect.
As Ramseyer came face to face with the officer, Thompson fired his rifle twice. The shots hit Ramseyer in the groin and the right side of his chest, knocking him to the ground; he later died at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden.
A medical examiner's report later revealed that Ramseyer "had a very high level of methamphetamine as well as a high level of alcohol in his system."
The documents state that Ramseyer's "large size, belligerent attitude, aggressive behavior" and other factors gave Thompson concerns about his own safety and that of the other officers. Ramseyer is 5 feet 8 inches tall and about 255 pounds, according to the documents.
"Given all of these circumstances, Chief Thompson reasonably believed that his use of deadly force was necessary," the documents add.
Just days after the shooting, Ramseyer's family said he was a father of 10 children ranging in age from 10 to 33. In a statement, his family described him as a devoted and kind father. He had no criminal record, but state court records indicate he had judgments and debt collections against him in 2009. In addition, Ramseyer was named in a civil stalking case, and a judge issued a protective order against him in April 2012. The case did not involve Ramseyer's wife, according to court records.
Ramseyer's family and lawyers with Box Elder County could not immediately be reached Wednesday evening.