The Salt Lake County District Attorney announced Thursday that he has declined to file charges against a Salt Lake City officer who fired his gun at a man fleeing officers into an occupied downtown office building.
District Attorney Sim Gill said filing charges “would be entirely inconsistent with the evidence presented,” saying Officer Blake Noble “made a reasoned, split-second decision” to shoot only after seeing 35-year-old Michael Zahn pull out his own firearm, according to a letter Gill sent to SLCPD Chief Mike Brown.
The letter was also delivered to West Valley Police Chief Colleen Jacobs. As per the valley-wide officer-involved critical incident protocol, an outside agency, West Valley City, investigated the shooting.
The confrontation with Zahn began Sept. 5, when a manager at the Homewood Suites hotel, 423 W. 300 South, called 911 to report some “unruly guests” for trespassing, according to audio of the phone call, released through the Government Records Access and Management Act.
Police arrived and spoke to the guests in the room, including Zahn, and all left voluntarily. Later, police ran the guests' name through a system that tracks warrants and found Zahn was wanted for a weapons violation.
When police confronted Zahn, he ran away and eventually climbed a fence into the courtyard of a nearby office building. Zahn shot out a door to get inside; Noble responded by shooting twice, hitting no one. Zahn was later found inside, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
In order for a shooting to be “justified” under state law, Noble must have reasonably believed that firing his gun was necessary to prevent the death or serious injury of himself or another.
Gill said in the letter that Noble met that standard.
Noble told investigators, “Out of concern that [Mr. Zahn] would go in [the building] and take hostages or kill people inside [the building], I attempted to stop [Mr. Zahn] and fired.”