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U.S. judge dismisses Farmington, SLC, Davis County in wrongful-death lawsuit

Published September 26, 2013 9:08 pm

Courts • Ruling stems from 2008 shooting of firefighter by a deputy after a 12-hour standoff.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A federal judge ruled Thursday there was no basis for claims that officers from various law enforcement agencies acted improperly when they killed a part-time Farmington firefighter after a 12-hour standoff outside his home in 2008.

U.S. District Court Judge David Nuffer granted summary judgment motions for Farmington City, Davis County and Salt Lake City after finding officers from their jurisdictions did not violate the constitutional rights of Brian Wood during the confrontation. Nuffer dismissed claims against a Davis County sheriff's deputy in November 2012.

Wood's wife and parents alleged in their wrongful death lawsuit that officers acted unreasonably after responding to a 911 call Wood made in which he claimed he had beaten and raped his wife. After making the call, Wood got into a pickup truck outside his home, taking two pistols with him; he fired one weapon shortly after Farmington officers arrived at the home.

Officers tried for two hours to get Wood, 37, to put the weapons down and leave the truck, but he refused. They then used tear gas to force Wood, who still had one handgun, out of the vehicle, where he remained for several more hours. SWAT officers from Davis and Salt Lake counties eventually used foam baton rounds, pepper balls, flash-bang grenades, verbal commands and a Taser on Wood, who still did not drop the gun. A Davis County sheriff's deputy fatally shot Wood after he pointed the gun at him and other officers.

Nuffer said it was "undisputed" that officers had a warrant to arrest Wood for felony rape and that he made threatening statements while confirming his intent to continue the standoff indefinitely.

The eventual plan enacted was "only implemented after Mr. Wood had refused to voluntarily surrender over the course of 12 hours of negotiations," Nuffer said in his ruling.

Under the circumstances, there is no evidence any of the entities engaged in an unconstitutional government policy, pattern or practice in the alleged use of excessive force, he said.

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