Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill has cleared a Salt Lake City police officer who fatally shot a man on Aug. 13, after the man allegedly pulled a knife and threatened to injure officers trying to arrest him.
Patrick Harmon, 50, whose most recent address, according to court records from November 2016, was the Road Home shelter, was shot about 10:20 p.m. at 1002 S. State St.
A patrol officer had approached Harmon after watching the man ride across all six lanes and a median of State Street, and without a rear red tail light, according to the district attorney’s report, which was released Wednesday afternoon.
Warning: Video contains graphic content
When asked for identification, according to the report, Harmon gave the officer a name that did not have a match in a police database. Body camera footage released Wednesday shows the officer searching for a name in the police database unsuccessfully.
In the video, the officer again asks Harmon for the spelling of his last name. The district attorney’s report said Harmon gave “a couple of different names.” Body camera footage shows Harmon quietly spelling his name and the officer asking for clarification multiple times.
Before the officer returned to his squad car, Harmon told the officer he may find a warrant related to a felony charge.
The officer called for backup on his radio, and two more officers soon arrived.
The officer did another check in the police database and found that Harmon had arrest warrants, including one for a felony. That warrant was for an aggravated assault, according to the report. Court records show that a $10,000 felony warrant had been issued in April, after Harmon did not show up for the sentencing. In that case, Harmon had pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, a second-degree felony.
In May, a judge issued a warrant for Harmon when he did not comply with probation requirements after pleading guilty in a misdemeanor drug possession case, court records show.
The officers on that August night told Harmon he was going to be arrested for his warrants.
Harmon pleaded with the officers to not take him to jail, an officer told investigators, and as police put the man’s hands behind his back to handcuff him, Harmon “bolted and ran.” As the three officers pursued him, the man “turned quickly” back toward them.
The officer who originally contacted Harmon drew his stun gun, and another, Officer Clinton Fox, drew his gun. All three officers reported hearing Harmon threaten to cut them. They saw him reach toward his right pants pocket and that he had something in his hand, the report said.
Fox later told investigators he saw a knife in Harmon’s hand with the blade exposed. He believed another officer was dangerously close to Harmon, he said.
In the footage, Fox shouts, “I‘ll f------ shoot you!” before firing three rounds at Harmon. Simultaneously, the other officer fires his stun gun.
Fox felt “terrified by how close Mr. Harmon was to the officers,” he told investigators. “Fox said that in ten years of law enforcement and two military deployments, it was the scariest situation he had ever been in,” according to the report.
Critically injured, Harmon was handcuffed and given first aid at the scene by police, and then was transported to the hospital by ambulance, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.
Body camera footage shows officers administering medical attention and saying, “Patrick, stay with us.“
At the scene, investigators found a knife on the ground, the report says.
The three officers wore body cameras that recorded the confrontation, the report says. The report includes several still frames from that footage, showing Harmon turning toward officers, Fox firing at Harmon and Harmon lying near a knife. There’s also a photo of the knife, taken by investigators.
The district attorney’s ruling comes days after Harmon’s family came to retrieve his body and local groups demanded the release of the police body camera footage at a protest.
Friends and family members did not believe Harmon deserved to die, they said, adding that he was a good man at his core, despite struggles with drugs.
His sister Antoinette Harmon told The Salt Lake Tribune on Wednesday that she had not heard about the report or seen the footage. She declined to comment further.
Fox had been placed on “modified duty,” said Salt Lake City Detective Robert Ungricht, pending the department‘s investigation, which was ongoing Wednesday.
Police Chief Mike Brown issued a statement saying he and the department “trust the process and support the decision” from Gill‘s office. “I believe our officers have the training, judgment and ability to make split-second decisions in dynamic situations,” Brown said.