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Man killed by police wanted to commit 'suicide by cop,' estranged wife said in 911 call

PROVO — The estranged wife of a man shot and killed by police Sunday said in a 911 call that Cody Evans wanted to commit "suicide by cop."

In a "chaotic" call Sunday morning reporting a domestic violence incident, the woman told police Evans had a BB gun that he intended to use when police pulled him over, warning that "it looks real," according to an update from police.

Evans, 24, of Springville, was shot and killed by two officers after pointing what they believed was an assault rifle at them, Provo police said. The officers were identified Monday as Provo police officer Zac Lazenby, who has eight years experience, and Utah County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Bagley, who has 15 years experience.

Police later determined Evans had two different pellet guns.

Since the shooting, Provo police have received multiple threats, including death threats, toward the department, Provo Police Sgt. Brandon Post said Monday. The department waited until Monday to release the officers' names in order to allow them time to prepare their families for threats and criticism.

"We've held off until today to give them the opportunity to sit down with their families and prepare them for what's about to happen," Post said. "There will be threats directed at them, most likely. It's happened before, it will happen again."

Despite the alleged confrontation that ultimately led to Evans' death, his brother, AJ Lyman, said Monday that Evans was happy and making improvements in his life. The brothers had spent a lot of time together recently, especially exercising together, and on the day of the shooting, the two men were supposed to go pick up a new engine for Lyman's truck.

"He was better than I've ever seen him in life, he was really happy with himself, he was just happy with everything," Lyman said. "It was really surprising to me, and surprising to my family. We had no idea, we had no clue."

Evans especially loved being outdoors and camping with his family, Lyman said. He was the father of four children, one son and three daughters.

When police responded to the 911 call they first confronted Evans on Sunday in his vehicle near Paul Reams Wilderness Park, 1600 W. 500 North. Evans, barricaded in the vehicle, refused to talk to officers. Instead he pulled out what appeared to be an AR-15 rifle, which made a distinct "metal on metal" sound, according to a statement released Monday by Provo police.

Evans told officers he was going to ram them, then started to drive. He drove through a resident's lawn to avoid spike strips set up by police. He also drove toward an officer as if to hit him but then swerved to avoid him, Post said. A short car chase ensued, but after Evans ran a red light, officers called off the chase for safety concerns, according to police.

After the pursuit, an officer at the scene of the original domestic violence call announced over the radio he had located a pellet gun at the scene and asked if it could be the gun Evans' estranged wife had warned officers about.

According to Provo police, another officer answered, "When he racked the rifle it didn't sound like a pellet gun. Do you think that's the fake one and maybe he has another one?"

The officer who found the pellet gun reportedly responded that he didn't know.

Police spotted Evans' vehicle again, reportedly at a friend's apartment, near 1800 West and 600 South.

When he came out, he was wearing a "tactical" vest but was not holding the weapon, Post said. It was later determined the vest was not bulletproof. Evans was also wearing a holster, police said. Officers attempted to arrest him as he walked out of a building.

Evans ignored officers' commands and ran to his vehicle, opened the door, and pulled out the assault-style rifle, police said. The Airsoft gun did not have an orange tip on it, Post said.

When Evans pulled out the gun, Lazenby and Bagley fired three shots from 100 feet away, killing Evans, police said. Investigators later determined there were firearms in the building Evans had been in, according to Monday's statement.

"If someone points a weapon at (officers), the training is to engage and protect your life and the lives of others," Post said Monday. "These guns are very realistic looking, it's a very scary situation that no officer wants to be in."

Both officers were placed on standard paid administrative leave pending an investigation. They were not wearing body cameras.

Provo police are currently looking for ways to fund cameras, Post said.

In February 2014, Evans took a plea in abeyance to domestic violence-related charges of assault, criminal mischief and domestic violence in the presence of a child. According to a probable cause statement, in that incident Evans grabbed his wife around the neck, "slammed" her onto the bed and punched her face, giving her a bloody and swollen lower lip and bruising around her neck. He was ordered to serve 10 days in jail.

In April 2014, Evans pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, a class B misdemeanor.

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com, Twitter: McKenzieRomero