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Man with knife shot by Salt Lake police officer

One man was reportedly in serious condition following an officer-involved shooting near the homeless shelter.
One man was reportedly in serious condition following an officer-involved shooting near the homeless shelter.
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SALT LAKE CITY — One man was hospitalized in serious condition Sunday following an officer-involved shooting near the downtown homeless shelter.

A Salt Lake police officer was driving in the area of 210 S. Rio Grande St. when he heard a woman screaming just before midnight Saturday. The officer, who has more than 20 years of experience, observed a 29-year-old man threaten the woman with a knife, said Salt Lake Police Sgt. Robin Heiden.

"He got out of his car and gave commands to the male, 'Drop the knife, drop the knife,' and he did not. And he actually lunged at the officer and that's when the officer shot the male," Heiden said.

Police did not disclose Sunday how many shots were fired. Neither the officer nor the woman were injured. The names of the man who was shot and the officer were not immediately released Sunday. The officer was placed on standard paid administrative leave pending an investigation.

The woman and the man with the knife were reportedly "associates," Heiden said. She did not believe the woman was being robbed, but it was unclear Sunday why the man was allegedly attacking the woman. Investigators planned to interview the man sometime during the next week or two.

The man reportedly "frequents the shelter" and had been hanging out there over the past three weeks, according to the sergeant, but it was unknown Sunday whether he was actually sleeping in the shelter.

Heiden said there is no body camera video from the shooting, though she said the reason why was still being investigated. Salt Lake police have equipped all of their patrol officers with body cameras which are supposed to be recording during any incident.

The officer involved in the shooting was just about to finish his shift for the day when he heard the woman screaming, Heiden said.

Two other officers who arrived at the scene shortly after the shooting were wearing body cameras that were recording, she said. There were about a dozen witnesses who were interviewed by police. Investigators were also collecting surveillance video from nearby businesses.

Because of a new law passed by the Utah Legislature, the shooting will be investigated by the Unified Police Department. The new protocol for peace officer use of force does not allow an agency to investigate any such incident involving one of its own. This shooting is believed to be the first time the new law has been used in Salt Lake City.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office will still conduct its own investigation to determine whether the shooting was legally justified and Salt Lake police will conduct a separate Internal Affairs review to determine if any department policies were violated.

In May, the State Bureau of Investigation conducted the analysis of Roosevelt Police Lt. Pete Butcher's fatal shooting of Kevin Vance Norton as a result of the new law. That investigation has since been completed and turned over to the Utah County Attorney's Office for a decision. Duchesne County Attorney Stephen Foote asked the Utah County Attorney's Office to review the state investigation to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam