West Valley City officer was justified in shooting man who ran toward him with a crowbar

The man survived the shooting, and is facing burglary and assault charges.

(West Valley City Police) This still image from body camera footage shows a man approaching police with a crowbar in West Valley City, May 10, 2021.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced Friday that a West Valley City officer was legally justified when he shot and injured a man who threatened him with a crowbar.

Officer Kurtis Braley shot Denny Clark in the early morning hours of May 10 after he and other officers were called to investigate a burglary near 4800 South and Huntington Street.

When Braley and another officer arrived, they saw Clark standing in a driveway holding a large, yellow crowbar.

Body camera footage from officers shows Clark approached. When he was ordered to drop it, Clark replied, “Nope, let me get these car keys or someone’s getting it.”

He then said, “Alright, here I come,” as he raised the crowbar over his head with both hands and ran toward the officers.

The footage shows an officer tasing Clark, who started to run away. But the man then quickly turned back and ran at Braley with the crowbar raised.

“Drop it right now!” Braley yelled, before firing at Clark five times.

Clark was hit in the lower abdomen and right elbow, according to the district attorney’s office. He survived, and is now facing charges including burglary and assault against a police officer. Clark remained in the Salt Lake County jail as of Friday.

Braley did not speak to district attorney investigators. But Gill said it was reasonable for the officer to believe he needed to use deadly force to prevent death or serious bodily injury to himself or others.

“Notably, Mr. Clark did not, at any time prior to the shooting, give any indication that he would comply with orders, stop, or put down the crowbar,” Gill wrote.