Salt Lake City police released video on Thursday showing two officers fatally shooting a man who ran at them with a knife in Pioneer Park earlier this month.
The officers got to the park around 8:45 a.m. on June 10 to investigate a report that a women had been stabbed. Video shows that as the two officers arrive, men who’d been helping the woman pointed out 39-year-old Rezek Yaqub Yahya sitting about 100 yards away from them in the park beneath a tree.
“She said that guy did it?” an officer asks as he approaches a shaded area near the street, where medics are helping the woman. She’d been stabbed in the stomach and arm and was bleeding heavily, according to a 911 caller.
“That’s what she said,” someone responds.
The officer says, “All right. Well, let’s go find (him).” And he and his partner walk into the park.
Video shows that Yahya stands when he notices the officers. One officer sees Yahya has a knife in his hand.
“Yo, put the knife down,” he says, continuing toward Yahya. Yahya doesn’t respond and walks toward the officers.
The officer tells Yahya to put down the knife twice more over the next 10 seconds. Then he tells his partner to get out his Taser. Almost simultaneously, Yahya runs at the officer’s partner.
The officer again yells for him to drop the knife and to stop running. Yahya doesn’t. Four seconds later, Yahya has nearly closed the distance between officers and is still sprinting.
The officers fire several times, hitting Yahya who falls and careens forward with his hands in front of him. He lands within a few feet of one of the officers, who has also fallen down. Police have not said how many times Yahya was hit.
After the shooting, video shows that the officers try to get Yahya to let go of the knife in his hand.
“Let it go, man” the officer says. “Come on. I want to help you. We want to help you”
As the officer says that, Yahya lets go of the knife. The officer grabs one of Yahya’s hands to handcuff him. He asks Yahya where he was shot. Reiterates they want to help him.
The officer never finishes putting Yahya in handcuffs, who stays mostly motionless as the officer talks to him. When medics walk up, one of them pulls away Yahya’s blue, disposable face mask. It’s soaked in blood.
Yahya died at the park. The woman, whose name police haven’t released, was critically injured but is expected to survive, SLCPD spokesman Detective Michael Ruff said Thursday.
Ruff said that if not for the men who were working nearby that morning and helped the women until medics arrived, applying pressure to her wounds at the direction of a 911 dispatcher, the woman likely would have died.
He said he couldn’t give out anymore details about the shooting and what led up to it because protocol team three, a group of officers from agencies throughout the Salt Lake valley who are not Salt Lake City police, will be investigating as part of the Salt Lake City police shooting protocols.
The outside agency will investigate the shooting and hand over their findings to the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors will then decide if the shooting is legally justified.
There have been 13 police shootings this year in Utah, according to a Salt Lake Tribune database.
Warning: This video contains graphic content of a man being shot and killed by police.