The Davis County Attorney’s Office has determined the Roy officers who shot and killed a 21-year-old man who shot at police, injuring a K-9 officer, after an August traffic stop were legally justified.
The Roy Police Department announced the county attorney’s finding on Thursday and released a video statement on the confrontation. The video showed, for the first time, some body and vehicle footage and photos of the scene.
The traffic stop that precipitated the deadly shootout was routine, body camera footage shows.
An unidentified officer first pulled over 21-year-old Aaron Griffin and his 49-year-old passenger around 2 a.m. near 5660 S. 1900 West in Roy, because of the car’s obstructed license plate.
In the video statement, Griffin tells the officer he’d put a piece of paper over it when he played a prank on his sister. The officer also notes Griffin’s brake light is out. Griffin says it’s defective and shows the officer that it only works when his bright lights are on — which, the officer replies, is still problematic.
“That solves that, I guess,” Griffin jokes, and the officer chuckles before walking back to his patrol car to check Griffin’s information.
He lets Griffin go with a warning after the passenger gets out to remove the paper over the license plate.
As the passenger is removing the paper, the officer asks his name, and he “gives the officer false information,” according to the statement.
Because of this, the officer again pulls over the car, asking the passenger for his name and if he has a criminal history. When the officer returns to his car to check that info, Griffin drives away, the video shows.
The officer chases the car briefly but stops the pursuit. Officers later find the vehicle crashed in a field near 2642 N. 2000 West in Clinton. Griffin ran from the car, while the passenger stayed nearby.
An officer sends a K-9 after Griffin, warning, “He will bite you! Stop!”
Seconds later, gunshots ring out. The responding officers fires into the field and calls his dog back. That’s when he discovers the dog has been shot in the face and calls for medical help.
Police said the dog, Mik, was hit by Griffin’s gunfire. The dog underwent surgery and survived.
About the time that the dog was shot, two other Roy patrol officers drove through the field searching for Griffin.
Footage shows them approach Griffin as he fires multiple rounds at both vehicles, including shooting at a police car as it approaches and rams him.
Bullets hit both vehicles, but neither officer were injured.
After running over Griffin, officers get out of their vehicles to look for them.
An officer tells another, “He’s down. I f------ hit him with my car, dude.” But moments later officers apparently see Griffin and shout at him to show his hands.
Then officers shot again, striking Griffin multiple times. He was declared dead at the scene.
The video statement said that as police ordered Griffin to show his hands, he pointed his gun at them, and officers fired.
The passenger was arrested and booked into jail for a parole violation.
While family declined The Salt Lake Tribune’s request for an interview Thursday, saying the shooting was still too painful to discuss, Griffin’s actions the day before he died give some insight into who he was.
It was about 4 a.m. when a woman speeding down the road near 2150 N. 5200 West and crashed, rolling her car and sparking a fire.
Plain City Fire Chief TJ Larson arrived about two minutes after to find the driver, seriously injured, already dragged out from beneath the burning car, sitting in front of it. Firefighters soon pulled her father away, and the car exploded.
Larson said that two men — Griffin and someone else — were the first to stop after the crash, and pulled the woman out with the help of a man and woman.
"If they hadn’t been there she definitely would have died,” Larson said.
Larson didn’t know Griffin, although he’d hoped to thank him and the other man for their heroics that night. Larson and Griffin connected on Facebook but didn’t get a chance to talk before Griffin was killed.
Since then, he’s heard from friends about Griffin’s struggles with substance use and self-worth.
“I think in the end, the biggest thing is that sometimes people do good things and sometimes they do bad things," Larson said.
People aren’t normally just one way or another, and Larson likes to think they strive for goodness despite personal troubles.
This police shooting marked Utah’s 15th of the year. Later that day, Unified police would shoot and kill 39-year-old Matthew Hilbelink, who was armed with numerous weapons and who police say was suicidal.
Those two police shootings pushed Utah to 16 this year — one more than 2019. Since then, police have shot five more people in the state, bringing the total to 21.
Of those 21 who were shot, 13 were killed.