District attorney says West Jordan officer justified in killing a 17-year-old

The boy had just shot another cop before Officer Gage Hoogveldt returned fire.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salt Lake District Attorney Sim Gill speaks during a news conference on Friday, August 21, 2020.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney has ruled that a West Jordan police officer was justified in shooting and killing a teenager who had just shot another officer.

West Jordan Officer Gage Hoogveldt killed 17-year-old Cyrus Carpenter on Aug. 2 during a shootout that quickly escalated from a stolen vehicle investigation.

Dash cam video shown at the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office on Friday shows Hoogveldt and another officer, Taylor Jackson, approach the truck, which had been parked in a neighborhood near 2400 West and 7700 South.

The officers tried to coax the three teenagers who were in the truck to get out, but they refused.

“C’mon, get out,” Jackson said to Carpenter, who was in the driver’s seat. “Keep your hands where I can see them. Open the door.”

As Hoogveldt began patting down one of the teenagers who had gotten out of the truck on the passenger side, body camera footage shows Carpenter quickly pulled out a small black gun and fire at Jackson, who had been standing just a few feet away. The bullet grazed the officer’s chin, and lodged in his shoulder.

Hoogveldt then moved to the front of the truck, and Carpenter continued firing at both officers. Hoogveldt returned fire, and Carpenter stumbled out of the truck, trying to run away.

As Hoogveldt reloaded his weapon, Carpenter fired at him once more.

The officer later recalled to investigators that he thought about the neighbors in the area, and a man nearby on the sidewalk who had asked for help because he had found a lost dog. He felt he needed to keep firing to keep them safe.

“He said to himself, ‘I need to shoot this guy or he’s going to hit me,’” the district attorney ruling reads.

Hoogveldt continued to shoot until he couldn’t see Carpenter, who was found unconscious in a nearby yard. Medics and other officers attempted life-saving efforts, but Carpenter died of his injuries.

In total, Hoogveldt fired 23 shots at Carpenter. The teen was hit seven times in the back, buttocks, neck, arm and hand, according to the district attorney’s office.

Jackson survived the shooting, while Hoogveldt was never hit.

District Attorney Sim Gill said Friday that the two officers both gave interviews to investigators, and did so without watching their own dash camera footage first. He applauded that transparency — which doesn’t always happen, because police officers are not required to cooperate in his office’s review.

“Officer Hoogveldt’s explanation for his decision to use deadly force against Mr. Carpenter reflects his willingness to be accountable to the community he serves when circumstances require him to take the life of a member of the community,” Gill said. “He honors his department, his colleagues, his profession and himself by explaining his decision to use deadly force.”

There have been 30 police shootings so far in Utah this year, a number that ties the 2018 record for the most police shootings in Utah in recent memory.

While 2020 ties the record for the most police shootings in more than a decade, it is the second deadliest with 17 fatal shootings. In 2018, police shot and killed 19 people, according a Salt Lake Tribune database of police shootings.