Farmington police on Wednesday publicly released body camera footage from the five officers who fatally shot Chase Allan last week.
Allan, 25, was pulled over in the parking lot of the Farmington post office March 1 after an officer noticed an illegitimate license plate on the back of his car, which was not registered. At the time, it was considered a routine traffic stop, Farmington police Chief Eric Johnsen has said.
In the body camera footage released during a police news conference Wednesday, Allan can be heard telling the officer who approaches his car, “I don’t need registration and I don’t answer questions.” The officer then called for backup, and four more officers headed to the scene.
Police have said Allan initially refused to provide any identification to the officer and “asserted his independence from the laws of the land.”
In the footage, Allan can be heard saying he is “not giving [the officer] jurisdiction” over him, adding that the officer is not allowed to stop him. Allan can be seen holding up his phone during the traffic stop, appearing to record the officer as they interact.
The body camera footage shows Allan eventually hand the officer his passport, but he does not provide a driver license. After backup arrives at the scene, an officer orders Allan to step out of the vehicle, but he refuses, stating that he is “not required to.”
As police again order Allan to step out of the car, Allan can be heard saying, “If you try and force me, then we’re going to have an issue.”
“If you don’t step out of the car, then we’re going to break the window and pull you out,” an officer can be heard replying.
‘Did he shoot?’
Seconds after that reply, officers appear to force Allan’s driver’s side door open, the footage shows. Almost immediately, as an officer leans over Allan, an officer can be heard shouting that Allan has a gun.
A barrage of gunfire can then be heard in the footage, as officers open fire for about five seconds while simultaneously stepping away from the vehicle, the footage shows.
The gunfire stops moments after an officer yells, “Cease fire, cease fire!” As the scene briefly grows quiet, and an officer reports the police shooting on a radio and requests medical, Allan can be seen still sitting in his vehicle. He does not appear to be moving.
Officers then bring Allan to the ground, facedown, where they can be seen handcuffing him in the footage. An empty holster sits on his hip. Later in the footage, an item that police later identified as a handgun can be seen on the floorboard of his car.
“Did he shoot?” an officer can be heard saying as Allan remains on the ground while officers begin to assess his injuries.
“I don’t have any f------ idea,” another officer can be heard replying.
Unclear if Allan reached for his gun
In the news conference Wednesday, Chief Johnsen said it remains unclear if Allan ever fired his weapon.
It also is unclear if Allan ever reached for his weapon, Johnsen said. The footage does not clearly show Allan brandishing it, but in a clip released Wednesday, the officer who had been leaning over Allan before police gunfire erupted can later be heard saying Allan was “able to get [his weapon] out,” which prompted the officer to “jump out” from Allan’s vehicle just before officers opened fire.
Johnson acknowledged Wednesday that while Allan appears to reach toward his holster in the footage, he may have been reaching for his seat belt.
The police shooting remains under investigation by the Davis County “critical incident task force” team. Johnsen said. That team will likely review any footage Allan may have recorded on his cellphone, the chief added, noting that if Allen did record anything, Johnsen had not personally reviewed it.
None of the officers who opened fire on Allan were injured. All remain on administrative leave as the investigation continues.
In a statement released last week, Allan’s family questioned the police account that the traffic stop was routine. They alleged, without citing the source of their information, that the officer who pulled Allan over “requested multiple other officers to the scene a couple blocks prior to the stop.”
The footage released Wednesday does not show the initial officer calling for backup until he had already stopped Allan and approached his vehicle. Johnsen referred to the family’s claim Wednesday as “absolutely untrue.”
It is unclear if Allan’s family was able to review the body camera footage ahead of its public release, Johnsen said.
Farmington police have not had contact with the family, the chief added, noting that Bountiful police have been assigned as the family’s liaison as the Davis County investigation continues.
Still, Johnsen said he was aware that Bountiful police have made “multiple attempts” to reach Allan’s family; the last the chief heard, the family had not responded.
Shooting draws attention to ‘sovereign citizen’ movement
Farmington police have not described the illegitimate plate that prompted the initial officer to pull Allan over, and it was not clearly visible in the body camera video released Wednesday.
But news footage from the scene that day shows Allan’s car bore a placard that included a known “sovereign citizen” symbol — part of a flag, with blue stars and red-and-white stripes — along with the words “Utah, American State Citizen” and “Notice, Private Automobile Not For Hire.”
It is unclear whether the officer who initially pulled Allan over recognized the symbol on the placard. It also is unclear whether Allan considered himself specifically part of the “sovereign citizen” movement, but the placard put a spotlight on the loose network of extremists who reject government and law enforcement. The FBI considers sovereign citizens a domestic terrorist movement, and notes that followers regularly put false license plates on vehicles.
Allan’s family, who have accused police of his “brutal murder,” said in their statement last week that Allan had been “studying law the last few years and was a patriot doing what he could to defend the people’s freedom and liberty in his community.” It did not name the sovereign citizen movement.
At least one officer at the shooting scene March 1 seemed to believe Allan may have been associated with the movement, the footage released Wednesday indicates. Shortly after the shooting unfolded, the officer can be heard surmising to someone, “He was a sovereign citizen, we think, type deal.”
If Allan was associated with the sovereign citizen movement, it is not why officers fired, Johnsen previously told The Salt Lake Tribune.
The March 1 shooting marked the fourth police shooting in Utah so far this year, according to a database maintained by The Salt Lake Tribune.