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West Valley City police officer injured during shootout with two juveniles won’t face charges, D.A. says

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Police investigate a shooting at the Village at Rivers Edge Apartment complex in West Valley, City, Tuesday, November 7, 2017.

Salt Lake County prosecutors opted not to file charges against an off-duty West Valley City police officer who exchanged gunfire with two juveniles allegedly trying to rob him last month.

In a review of the use of force sent to the state’s Bureau of Investigation and the West Valley City and Unified police departments, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill deemed the shooting justified because their investigation found that Officer Aaron Weeks believed that if he didn’t shoot at the teenagers, he could be killed or seriously injured.

Under Utah law, someone who reasonably believes he or she could be killed or seriously injured can use deadly force to protect him- or herself.

On Nov. 7, Weeks, who is a part-time security guard at the Village at Rivers Edge apartment complex in West Valley City, was investigating a report of a homeless person in the complex, 1205 W. 3301 South, when he walked by two juveniles. The boys then shouted at Weeks and ran toward him, according to the review.

When the two, a 17-year-old and a 15-year-old, were a few feet from Weeks, who wasn’t in uniform, one of the boys pointed a handgun at Weeks and said, “Gimme what you got.” The teenagers said they didn’t know Weeks was a police officer.

Weeks told investigators the boy had his finger on the handgun’s slide, and he watched as the boy’s finger moved to the trigger. Weeks said he thought to himself, “This guy’s going to kill me.”

Weeks reacted, he said, and pulled his own handgun from his inside-the-waistband holster and fired at the boys.

Security footage appears to show the boy fired about one second after Weeks, the review says.

“From this recording, it appears highly likely that, rather than [the boy] taking the time to react to Officer Weeks by drawing a handgun from concealment and firing the weapon, [the boy] allegedly had the weapon out and at least somewhat ready to fire,” the review says.

The two exchanged fire, and Weeks emptied his weapon. He was shot in the foot as he sought cover. As he was hiding, Weeks said, the boy fired two more times. At about that time, Weeks used his police radio to report that he’d been shot.

Investigators found “numerous” spent 9mm cartridges at the scene and a bloody 9 mm handgun they believe the boy used, according to the review.

Both boys were shot — the 17-year-old was hit once, and the 15-year-old was hit twice — and fled to a hospital, where Unified officers arrested them. The two have since been referred to juvenile court.

Weeks was on routine paid administrative leave throughout the investigation, and he has been cleared to return to patrol duties once he recovers from the shooting. He hasn’t returned to work, West Valley City police spokeswoman Roxeanne Vainuku said.

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