Authorities have identified the West Valley City man killed Thursday in Salt Lake City after he reportedly pulled a gun as federal task force members tried to arrest him.
The U.S. Marshals Violent Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team, with help from West Valley City police, were tracking down 38-year-old Damien Evans for the Utah Department of Corrections and Adult Probation and Parole after a warrant had been issued for a parole violation.
The task force tried to arrest Evans — who they identified as “a violent parole fugitive” — around 5:15 p.m. near 1000 S. Main St., according to a U.S. Marshals Service news release.
The release said Evans “refused commands to stop” and ran from officers, who deployed a K-9 and pursued him on foot and in vehicles. Evans “pulled a firearm, and officers returned fire,” killing him. He died at the scene. Matthew Harris, with the U.S. Marshals, said Evans had a pistol.
The USMS did not identify which officer or officers shot Evans or the department for which they work. The Unified Police Department’s Critical Incident Protocol Team is investigating.
Harris said the shooting wasn’t captured by body camera because the Department of Justice doesn’t allowed federally funded task force members to wear them, and USMS deputies don’t wear them either. While some departments across the U.S., including Salt Lake City Police Department, are a part of a pilot program where local officers on task forces wear body cameras, those officers don’t work on the violent fugitive arrest team, Harris said.
According to the Utah Department of Public Safety warrants search, Evans had three warrants out for his arrest: two for misdemeanor drug offenses and one tied to a 2018 third-degree felony possession of forged writing or device for writing conviction.
Notes on that last warrant ask those who encounter Evans to use caution because of his past crimes, specifically convictions for assault, weapons, escaping, drugs and gang offenses.
Evans death marked the 17th police shooting this year in Utah, and the eleventh fatal one. The shooting is the fifth this month, when the total number of police shootings this year surpassed the 2019 total of 15.
Activists and citizen journalists Thursday night questioned why a K-9 officer would be used in Salt Lake City, since the city police department had recently announced it would stop using K-9s for arrests after The Salt Lake Tribune reported on an officer ordering its dog to attack a Black man who was on his knees and had his hands in the air.
Police are investigating if the use of force was justified and Salt Lake County prosecutors will determine if the officer is criminally charged. The department is also reevaluating how it uses K-9s for arrest, and there’s no timeline for the dogs to return to arrest work, spokesman Detective Michael Ruff said Friday.
“We need to take the time it takes to get it right,” he said.
Police dogs used for tracking people, finding drugs and weapon recovery are still on-duty, Ruff said.
Correction: Aug. 29, 2020, 3:13 p.m. • An earlier version of this story misspelled Damien Evans' name and misstated the crimes for which he was wanted. It also listed the incorrect number of fatal police shootings in Utah in 2020.