Two Utah officers justified in shooting a man who reached for a handgun

This is the third time Officer Dustin Olzack has been in a shooting. Each time, prosecutors have ruled it justified.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill walks through the findings of an Officer Involved Critical Incident Protocol on Friday, March 12, 2021.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill has ruled that two Herriman officers were legally justified in shooting and killing a man who had reached for a gun when they confronted him.

Isaac Lemoine Christensen was killed on Oct. 27 after Herriman Officers Dustin Olzack and Brady Askerlund shot him while responding to calls about Christensen pointing a gun at people and trying to hit them with his car.

Christensen’s ex-girlfriend was among those who called police that evening, according to the district attorney’s office, to report that he was “driving around the neighborhood trying to intimidate her.” She relayed to dispatchers that she had heard someone nearby say, “He has a gun!”

When officers showed up, some heard gunshots and body camera footage shows officers rushed toward the noise trying to find Christensen. They found him under a van, lying face down with his hands out in front of him. A gun was on the ground nearby.

“Officers yelled commands at Mr. Christensen, including commands for him to get out from under the van, and to show his hands,” Gill wrote in a letter to Herriman’s police chief. “Officers yelled several times for Mr. Christensen not to reach for the gun lying in front of him.”

But body camera footage shows Christensen didn’t follow the commands, and instead quickly reached toward the gun. Olzack and Askerlund then fired 14 times at Christensen. Nine of the bullets struck the man.

Neither Olzack nor Askerlund spoke with investigators, which is their right. But Gill said it’s reasonable to infer the officers shot because they believed doing so was necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury.

Utah law says officers are justified in shooting at someone if they reasonably believe that person poses “a threat of serious bodily injury to the officer or to others.”

This is Olzack’s third police shooting, according to a Salt Lake Tribune database. He is one of 38 Utah officers who have been in more than one shooting in the past 17 years.

Olzack fired in two separate shootings in 2014.

He fired at Michael Joseph who was running away and had fired a machine gun at Olzack. No one was hit in the February 2014 shooting.

That November, Olzack and another officer fired at a couple who had led them on a car chase. Ramon Silvestre Franco and Celene Hernandez eventually left their car and started running, and Franco fired several rounds at Olzack. Another officer and Olzack fired at Franco and Hernandez — the two were injured, but survived.

Olzack was found justified in both of those shootings.