Over the past five years, more Utah residents have been killed by police officers than by gang members, drug dealers and child abusers.
According to a new study by The Salt Lake Tribune, which examined court records, coroner reports, crime statistics and media reports, only domestic violence kills more people in Utah than law enforcement.
"The numbers reflect that there could be an issue, and it’s going to take a deeper understanding of these shootings," said Chris Gebhardt, a former Utah police officer. "It definitely can’t be written off as citizen groups being upset with law enforcement."
Only one fatal shooting by a police officer, on Nov. 2, 2012, was ruled unjustified, but a criminal charge against the officer was dismissed in October by a judge.
3rd District Court Judge L.A. Dever dismissed a manslaughter charge against former police detective Shaun Cowley in the death of Danielle Willard.
“I’ve stated all along, from the first interview I believe I did with you guys, the evidence would show I’d be acquitted,” Cowley told Fox 13. “Feels good.”
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"Sometimes the line between is it legal and is it necessary becomes difficult to distinguish," Robert Wadman, a criminal justice professor at Weber State University, told The Salt Lake Tribune. "In the judgment of the officer, ‘Is my life in jeopardy? Yes.’ At that point in time, they’re legally grounded in using deadly force. But the question is, is it necessary? That’s something that needs to be firmly addressed, for example, in training."
Sources: Fox 13, The Salt Lake Tribune / Image Credit: Adam Zaklikowski