Salt Lake City police shot and killed a man on Thursday morning who they said “aggressively” approached them as officers investigated a stabbing victim in Pioneer Park.
At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said that as police were attending to the woman who was stabbed, officers were directed to a man nearby. One of the officers saw the man was holding a knife. The officers told him to drop it, but he didn’t listen, police said, and ran at officers with the knife. Both officers fired at the man when he “got close enough to the officers.”
First responders were still at the scene after responding to the stabbing and provided medical attention. The man died at the scene despite 20-25 minutes of attempts to revive him after a “traumatic cardiac arrest,” said Salt Lake City Fire Chief Karl Lieb.
Police believe the dead man was likely the one who attacked the woman, who they did not identify, but said Thursday that detail is still under investigation.
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, who was at the press conference, said she watched the body camera footage and what she saw was “an example of excellent policing under threatening and terrible circumstances.” The police department will make the body-worn camera footage public within 10 business days.
“Today our officers were faced with making a call that no officer ever wants to make,” Mendenhall said. “But ultimately after reviewing the footage myself of the incident, I believe this was a choice that they had to make, in order to ensure the safety of the victim, of our firefighters who were rendering aid, to the bystanders and to themselves.”
Mendenhall also said she was grateful to nearby construction workers who immediately began to assist the stabbing victim, and firefighters who were first on the scene after a call to dispatch at 8:40 a.m. The woman remains in critical condition but is stable, sustaining an arterial injury to her arm and an abdominal injury.
“My heart goes out to this woman, and her friends and her family,” Mendenhall said. “She was stabbed somewhere that everyone deserves to feel safe — in our city parks — and the safety of the people in Salt Lake City is my number one priority. I’m committed to doing everything that I can as mayor to make sure our city is as safe as it can be even safer each day.”
Protocol team three, a group of officers from agencies throughout the Salt Lake valley who are not Salt Lake City police, will be investigating both confrontations as per SLCPD’s Officer Involved Critical Incident Investigative Protocol.
“I’ve looked at this video as well,” Brown said. “I believe these officers did everything they could possibly do to prevent this from happening — to de-escalate — but their actions were, I feel, very much in line with our training. I think they exercised great judgment and their ability to make a split second decision, I think, is impeccable.”