Audio of fatal 2014 shooting in Salt Lake courthouse: Four gunshots then an order to ‘drop the pen’

Audio was released by the court on Thursday; video remains under seal.<br>

Mariah Noble | The Salt Lake Tribune Tolina Tausinga, her mother Valu Angilau and attorney Robert Sykes held a news conference after filing a lawsuit for the 2014 death of Siale Angilau.

There is a boing sound — the kind you might make by striking a narrow tube with a microphone on the end of it — some rustling and then someone saying, ”Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!”

Then there is the sound of four gunshots. 

“Don’t f---ing move!” someone shouts, presumably to Siale Angilau, 25, the criminal defendant who was just shot inside a federal courtroom. 

“Drop the pen out of your hands!” someone else yells. 

A marshal working security shot and killed Angilau April 21, 2014, during Angilau’s racketeering trial at the U.S. District courthouse in Salt Lake City.

On Thursday, the clerk’s office at the courthouse provided The Salt Lake Tribune with an audio recording of what happened in the courtroom that morning. 

The U.S. Department of Justice filed the audio with the court in February of this year as an exhibit in a wrongful death lawsuit the department is contesting. The recording was made by the courtroom stenographer so he could verify the dialogue he was transcribing. The recording was listed on a docket entry along with another group of exhibits that remain sealed, including video of the shooting.

In a hearing Tuesday that primarily dealt with that video, Justice Department attorney Leah Brownlee Taylor said the audio had never been sealed. 

Angilau had been a member of Salt Lake City’s Tongan Crip Gang. A former member, Vaiola Tenifa, was testifying for the prosecution about the gang’s practices, including how boys as young as 9 are recruited and how they must put in “work.” That can included beer thefts, robberies and shooting at opposing gang members, he said. 

Tenifa had been on the witness stand for 22 1/2 minutes when Angilau picked up a pen from the defense table and charged. 

On the audio recording, there is about 3 1/2 seconds between the boing sound — apparently caused when Angilau, or someone startled by him, bumped or jostled one of the flexible microphones mounted on the attorneys tables or a podium — and when the shots are fired. 

Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune Family, friends, and supporters of, Siale Angilau, who was shot and killed in the Salt Lake City federal courthouse, gather for the Justice4Siale Vigil on the courthouse plaza in Salt Lake City, Utah Wednesday, June 11, 2014. Glendale community members have organized a coalition called the "Raise your Pen Coalition."

In that span, no one is heard giving Siale any commands. The four shots are heard in quick succession. Then yelling and screaming begins. 

Following the commands to not move and drop the pen, someone else says, “Stay right here, don’t move.” Then someone is heard saying 911 is needed.

A few seconds after that, a voice can be heard directing emergency dispatchers to ”the new federal courthouse” at an address he gives only as ”400 South West Temple.” 

The address is actually 351 S. West Temple. Angilau’s trial was the first in the new courthouse. Angilau was pronounced dead at a hospital. 

While one voice is requesting assistance for Angilau, another voice directs the jury out of the courtroom. Judge Tena Campbell ordered a mistrial later in the day. 

The attorney for the Angilau family, Bob Sykes, has heard the audio and seen the video. On Thursday, he said both recordings demonstrate how the marshal reached for a gun rather than seeking other ways to subdue Angilau. Tenifa was backing out of the witness box and was in no danger, Sykes said. 

“I’m sure the marshal panicked and decided to open fire,” Sykes said. 

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Marshals Service in Washington, D.C., issued a statement Thursday. 

“While we cannot comment on the recently released audio due to pending litigation, we can stress that we take the security of the federal judicial process seriously. As the security arm of the federal courts, the U.S. Marshals Service is responsible for ensuring the safe and secure conduct of judicial proceedings and protecting federal judges, jurors, attorneys, witnesses and other members of the federal judiciary.” 

The marshal who fired the shots is not identified on the recording. The U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Department of Justice have worked to keep the marshal’s name a secret. 

Both the Marshals Service and the FBI have denied journalists’ requests under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain information about the shooting or what a review found.

In the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Angilau’s parents, the marshal is identified as Jane Doe, though on the recording, only male voices are heard giving commands or calling for assistance. 

A coalition of news outlets, including The Salt Lake Tribune, has intervened in the lawsuit to try and obtain the video, which has been filed under seal. At Tuesday’s hearing, Brownlee Taylor said the Tongan Crip Gang has threatened to retaliate against law enforcement for Angilau’s killing, and that releasing the video could further inflame gang members. She also accused journalists of seeking to sell newspapers

“It‘s not the media’s job to hold law enforcement accountable,” Brownlee Taylor told U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul J. Cleary. ”That is done in a court of law.”

David Reymann, an attorney for the news outlets, told Cleary that the journalists are seeking a version of the video in which the marshal’s face is pixilated. The journalists are trying to uphold the principle that says what happens in open court is available to the public, Reymann said.

Cleary is expected to rule in the coming weeks on whether to release the video. The wrongful death lawsuit itself is still pending.