No charges for officers who shot a man as he pulled out a gun and shot himself, Salt Lake County D.A. says

A violent fugitive apprehension team shot Hector Javier Crespo-Rodriguez as they served an arrest warrant in December 2022.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill speaks during a news conference on Friday, March 12, 2021. Gill said on Friday that he would not file charges against members of a violent fugitive apprehension team who shot a man in Dec. 2022 after he pulled out a gun and killed himself.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced Friday that he won’t file criminal charges against several federal and local police officers who shot a man who had been hiding in a closet during a home raid.

Hector Javier Crespo-Rodriguez died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to findings released by the Salt Lake County district attorney’s office Friday. But Gill’s office reviewed the Dec. 21, 2022 shooting because three officers also fired their own weapons at Crespo-Rodriguez in the moments after he pulled out his gun.

The U.S. Marshal Service’s Violent Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team (VFAST) were attempting to serve an arrest warrant for Crespo-Rodriguez on the evening of the shooting at a West Valley City home, according to the district attorney’s office. Included on that 10-person team who entered the split-level house was ICE Agent Nathan Fuluvaka, U.S. Marshal Service Deputy Aron Gonzalez and West Jordan Detective Bo Reier. Crespo-Rodriguez had two felony warrants out for his arrest, according to the D.A.’s office, for drug possession with intent to distribute and possession of a weapon by a restricted person.

Police began clearing the home, the D.A.’s findings state, and officers kicked in a locked door and found Crespo-Rodriguez crouched in a ball, trying to hide in a closet. Six officers flooded into the room, according to Gill’s office — including Fuluvaka and Gonzalez who moved into the room and stood on a bed with rifles drawn, and Reier, who had a handgun and positioned himself in front of Crespo-Rodriguez.

Despite police commands to surrender, Crespo-Rodriguez remained in the closet, the D.A.’s findings say, and he wouldn’t show both of his hands. Another deputy marshal then tried firing a Taser at Crespo-Rodriguez.

“As the taser deployed, Mr. [Crespo-Rodriguez] produced a handgun and shot himself in the head,” the D.A.’s findings state. “As he did so, DM Gonzalez, Agent Fuluvaka and Det. Reier fired their weapons.”

The three officers declined to speak to investigators about the shooting, according to the district attorney’s office. But other law enforcement present recalled hearing the taser deploy, followed by several gunshots in quick succession. An autopsy later showed Crespo-Rodriguez had been hit by five bullets, and D.A. investigators believe he died from the self-inflicted wound.

Investigators later determined that Fuluvaka and Gonzalez had each fired one round from their 5.56mm caliber rifles, and Reier shot two 9mm rounds from his pistol.

VFAST does not use body cameras, so video footage of the shooting doesn’t exist.

Gill wrote in his findings that investigators could “reasonably infer” based on the evidence that the three officers fired in reaction to both seeing Crespo-Rodriguez pull out a gun and raise the weapon in close quarters. He said it was likely that a jury would find the officers reasonably believed using lethal force was necessary to prevent death or bodily injury to themselves or others.