Two Salt Lake City police officers shot and critically injured a 37-year-old man Tuesday in Sugar House after a mobile crisis outreach team called for police backup, a police spokesperson said at the scene.
The shooting happened shortly after 11:30 a.m. at a home near 900 East and 1700 South, after police said the mobile crisis outreach team with the Huntsman Mental Health Institute was already in the area and called Salt Lake City police for backup, the police spokesperson said.
Mobile crisis outreach teams consist of both trained, licensed clinicians and peer support specialists who provide support to people who are experiencing a mental health crisis. It was unclear as of Tuesday why the outreach team initially responded to the home.
When the outreach team arrived, the 37-year-old man was in a detached garage at the home. Together, the responding social workers and a family member made contact with him, police said. It’s unclear what prompted the outreach team to request police backup.
When police arrived, they met with the social workers and the family member, who together escorted the officers to the detached garage, police said.
While inside the garage, the social workers and the relative spoke with the man, police said. That’s when police said the man reached for a weapon. Both officers then fired shots.
It’s unclear what type of weapon the man reached for; police did not specify. No officers were injured in the shooting.
“Today, our officers took action to protect two social workers and a family member during an incident that unfolded in a split second,” Police Chief Mike Brown said in a statement Tuesday evening.
“Our officers were asked by social workers to respond to this call for their protection and assistance,” Brown said in the statement. “These are situations that are never predictable, but our two involved officers relied on their training and experience to protect others and themselves.”
After the shooting, responding officers along with Salt Lake City Fire Department personnel provided first aid to the man before he was taken to a local hospital. Police said the man, who was not identified, suffered critical injuries.
The two Salt Lake City officers who opened fire have been placed on administrative leave in accordance with department procedure, the police spokesperson said.
According to the Huntsman Mental Health Institute, when a call comes in to the Utah Crisis Line, which could result in a mobile outreach team deploying, “thorough” risk assessments are conducted over the phone to determine whether it would be safe for a team to respond, Rachel Lucynski, the institute’s director of community crisis services, said.
“It is an outlier when law enforcement support and backup is requested, but it does happen,” Lucynski said. “Generally speaking, our [mobile crisis outreach team] staff will call law enforcement for backup or on-site support if a risk assessment determines that there could be a potential safety threat for our staff.”
Lucynski did not provide more details about the nature of the crisis line call Tuesday that later resulted in a police shooting.
This marked the 16th police shooting in Utah so far this year, according to a database maintained by The Salt Lake Tribune.