A convicted sex offender shot by police late Monday apparently had no weapon and made no verbal threats before the officer fired his gun, according to a preliminary investigation.
Steven Johns, 45, remains in critical condition at LDS Hospital. He was shot once in his chest by Salt Lake police officer Mark Nelson after a 20-minute chase through four cities."We're still digging through the situation, but we haven't recovered a weapon of any sort yet," said detective Brian Jewkes, who is investigating the shooting.
He said no weapon was seen by any officers before Nelson fired his gun.
"Apparently, the situation was that this guy was still trying to get the car out of there and continue running. He was working the gear shift and steering wheel and was actually trying to back it up," Jewkes said.
At one point, witnesses said Johns also appeared to lean down and reach for something. "The officers couldn't see his hands apparently," Jewkes said.
The detective also said he "was not aware" of Johns making any verbal threats before the gunfire.
Airport police officers earlier had broke up what they thought to be a sexual attack in John's truck. A woman leaped from the vehicle, yelling, "Help me! Help me!" according to a report filed by the first officer on the scene.
The officer ordered the driver to stop but he didn't, eventually crashing into a fenceafter a trooper rammed the truck.
Jewkes will finish his investigation before presenting his findings to the Salt Lake County district attorney's office, which will rule whether the shooting was within state law.
The results of his investigation will probably also be presented to the department's Use of Force Board. The board, composed of three police personnel and two citizens, could meet as early as next week, said Assistant Chief Larry Stott.
Capt. Norm Thompson said the board "may look at (the situation) and decide the officer could have and should have done something other than fire his gun.
"We can't quarterback this thing Monday morning. The board will look at the entire situation," he said.