Six Unified police officers deemed justified in fatally shooting a man during a standoff

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) A Unified Police vehicle, Wednesday March 4, 2020

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced Friday that six Unified police officers were justified in shooting and killing a man who pointed an air pistol at them in February.

The officers fired a total of 19 times at Marc Dominic Neal, killing the 57-year-old man.

Police were sent to a home in Millcreek after Neal’s mother called 911 on Feb. 3 to report that her son was “acting strangely” and had a gun, according to a summary from the district attorney’s office. When officers arrived, they saw Neal pacing in a yard holding a silver-colored revolver.

A 12-minute stand-off ensued, according to the district attorney’s office, where the officers yelled at him to “Drop the gun!” and “Put it down!” several times, and Gill noted the officers made efforts to deescalate the situation.

“What can we do to help?” one officer asked several times.

Neal responded by saying he wasn’t going back to prison and to “do what you gotta do.”

Gill said the officers had requested that a less lethal gun with bean-bag rounds be brought to the scene, but before that could arrive, Neal put both hands on the gun and started to raise it toward the officers.

Six officers then fired at Neal, who fell to the ground.

As officers approached him, Gill said, two officers began firing again after seeing Neal move with the gun still in his hand.

Gill said his office concluded the officers who fired “reasonably believed” their lives were in danger. Though Neal had an air pistol, Gill noted it had no markings to indicate it wasn’t a real gun, and was heavy and made of metal.

The following officers fired at Neal:

  • Aaron Lawrence, fired three shots from a rifle.

  • Rob Walser, fired six shots from a handgun.

  • Kaley Erickson, fired two shots from a rifle.

  • Michael Erickson, fired one shot from a rifle.

  • Chris Schroeder, fired three shots from a rifle.

  • Trevor Weeks, fired four shouts from a handgun.

Gill noted in a Friday news conference that only one officer, Lawrence, gave an interview to investigators. Walser, Kaley Erickson and Michael Erickson provided witness statements, and the other two officers declined to participate in the investigation.

Lawrence and Weeks weren’t wearing body cameras and Walser didn’t have his turned on. The remaining three did have their body cameras on, but the lenses were covered by the jackets the officers were wearing during a January snowstorm.

Only one body camera, shown during a Friday news conference, caught a glimpse of Neal on video, swaying back and forth as the officers continue to ask him to put down the gun.

Gill said his investigators were able to use audio from the other body cameras, along with interviews with police and witnesses, to piece together what happened.

Neal’s mother told investigators that her son had expressed a desire to die “suicide-by-cop,” according to the district attorney’s office, and had told her the week prior that he wouldn’t go back to prison “no matter what.”

His stepfather told investigators that he believed Neal was high on methamphetamine that day. He said they called police after Neal pointed the gun at the front door of their home.

Court records show that Neal had been paroled after serving time in prison for burglary.