Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill ruled Friday that three police officers were justified in firing their guns at a man who had just shot his girlfriend and one of the officers.
The three Salt Lake City police officers — Kristopher Jeppsen, Hayden Cassity and Chad Miller — fired their weapons Feb. 10 as they were responding to an early morning open-line 911 call where a man and woman, later identified as Micheal Nance and Natalie Thurber, can be heard talking about a knife.
Body camera footage Gill released Friday shows Jeppsen going to the apartment building, searching and following the sounds of the couple arguing before stopping in front of a ground-level apartment window.
Gill said Friday that Jeppsen could hear “that the situation in the apartment was getting worse.” He could hear a man say, “Shut up, shut up” and a woman making gurgling noises, according to the district attorney.
“Police,” Jeppsen shouts, “drop it or I will shoot you right now. Let me see your hands.”
Jeppsen saw Nance with his arms around Thurber, choking her, according to the district attorney’s office.
Nance let go of Thurber once Jeppsen yelled at him to stop, Gill said, and backed up and around the corner of a room.
Just as the two other officers were arriving, Nance allegedly returned with a handgun and fired two shots: One killing Thurber and another toward the three officers.
Miller was struck in the leg, and fired a single shot as he fell to the ground.
Jeppsen likely fired nine shots toward Nance, according to the district attorney’s office, and Cassity likely fired four times. None of the bullets struck Nance.
By the time police got inside the apartment, Nance was gone. A handgun and Thurber’s body were on the bathroom floor.
Police found Nance after multiple people had called 911 to report a man bleeding from his face and asking for help.
Gill became emotional during a Friday news conference as he spoke about 34-year-old Thurber, saying Jeppsen should be recognized for all he did trying to help her despite not knowing where exactly she was or what was happening.
“I know his efforts fell short,” he said. “But it was not because he wasn’t trying. And I think that needs to be commended. And I know that all of the responding officers in this particular situation did their very level best to come to the assistance of a victim.”
Gill determined that Jeppsen and Cassity were justified in firing their weapons because they “reasonably believed” the force was necessary to prevent someone from being killed or injured.
Miller told investigators he had no memory of firing his weapon, but Gill said body camera footage shows the single shot and his gun was down one round.
Gill said investigators don’t know if Miller being shot in the leg caused a “sympathetic reaction” in which he fired his gun, or if the trauma of being shot affected his memory. Either way, Gill said the circumstance didn’t warrant criminal charges against the officer.