Man who shot at officer during West Valley City traffic stop pleads guilty to felony charges

Angel Bernardino was injured in the shootout with the officer, who tried to pull him over when she suspected he was impaired.

(Screenshot via West Valley City Police body camera footage) A man appears to reach into his waistband as a West Valley Police officer approaches him on April 20, 2023, ahead of a police shooting.

A man who was injured in an April shootout with a West Valley City police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to felony charges.

Before the April 20 shooting, the officer called in to report that she was trying to stop a driver in a white van near 2400 S. Redwood Road. The officer suspected the driver was intoxicated, authorities said.

The driver — later identified as 18-year-old Angel Bernardino — did not pull over and attempted to turn onto State Road 201, but he “failed to negotiate the turn,” then went over a curb and into a gravel embankment.

The officer followed and went over the curb as well. When she got out of her vehicle, Bernardino was out of his van and facing her. She yelled “Police! Stop, stop, stop!” as Bernardino appeared to reach into his waistband, body camera footage released in May showed.

Police said Bernardino drew a weapon, the officer drew hers and the two exchanged gunfire, though Bernardino can’t clearly be seen firing his weapon in the body camera footage. Bernardino shot once at the officer — narrowly missing her — and the officer returned several shots, striking Bernardino, according to court documents.

After he was shot, Bernardino fell to the ground and dropped his handgun, police said. He then reached for his gun, and the officer fired at him again and commanded him to stay on the ground, but Bernardino was not compliant, authorities said in court documents.

The officer then took cover and waited for backup to arrive, according to a news release from the Salt Lake County district attorney’s office. The extent of Bernardino’s injuries was unclear, but police said in May that he was recovering after the shooting.

Bernardino pleaded guilty Tuesday to two second-degree felony charges: assault on a peace officer with a dangerous weapon, and use of a firearm by a restricted person. He was subsequently sentenced to two to 30 years in prison, according to a news release.

The West Valley City police shooting marked the eighth police shooting in Utah this year, according to a database maintained by The Salt Lake Tribune.

The most recent police shooting in Utah to date was Wednesday, Sept. 13 in Murray, near Fashion Place mall. That shooting marked the 17th police shooting in Utah so far this year, according to the Tribune database.