A man who allegedly set his yard on fire and threatened responding firefighters in early July did not obey commands to drop his weapon before he was shot by Salt Lake City police, body camera footage released Wednesday indicates.
Emergency dispatchers received the 911 first call to the residence at about 8:03 p.m. July 9, when a neighbor reported that Peter Michael Larsen, 44, was burning his fence down, according to call audio also released Wednesday.
A few minutes later, Salt Lake City firefighters requested assistance from Salt Lake City police due to an “aggressive male” who “threatened to shoot” firefighters, police said in a news release.
An SLCPD officer arrived at the residence at about 8:19 p.m., the body camera footage shows. An emergency responder told the officer that Larsen had threatened to shoot anyone who stepped on his property, claiming he had a shotgun. The responder said they weren’t sure if the man actually had a shotgun.
“I don’t like this,” the officer said as he retrieved a rifle from his patrol car, the footage shows.
After a few minutes of relaying information over the phone, the officer’s body camera footage cuts out from 8:27 p.m. to 8:36 p.m., which SLCPD attributed to the officer’s rifle hitting the camera. During this time officers requested backup to the residence, according to a news release.
At about 8:40 p.m., officers used a loudspeaker to command that Larsen exit the residence with his hands up. Officers continued to issue verbal commands for several minutes but Larsen did not respond, the footage indicates.
Two officers moved around the side of the house into a neighbor’s backyard at about 8:47 p.m., facing a burnt portion of Larsen’s fence near his back door. Five minutes later, the officers relayed over the radio that Larsen had come out from the back of his house, but the man is obscured by the fence in the footage.
The officers yelled at Larsen to drop his weapon and put up his hands five times. Larsen is not seen in the footage but allegedly pointed the shotgun in the direction of the two officers, according to court documents.
The SLCPD officers then fired 14 shots at the man, which struck him in both hands, charging documents state. Larsen then retreated into his house, police said in the footage.
At about 8:59 p.m., officers at the scene found that the fire was growing, and the blaze spread to the side of Larsen’s home by about 9:10 p.m, according to the news release. A separate team of officers talked Larsen out of the residence a few minutes later.
Larsen was then taken to the hospital with injuries that were considered survivable. When taken into custody, he was found with several more live shotgun rounds in his pockets. A bucket of shotgun shells also was found near the door of the residence where he had retreated.
Larsen was charged with two felony counts of assault on a peace officer with a dangerous weapon, a felony count of arson, and seven misdemeanors. The fire Larsen ignited reportedly caused over $1,500 in damage, court documents state.