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Police union pushes for attempted murder charge in case of injured officer

SHARE Police union pushes for attempted murder charge in case of injured officer
Now Unified police officer Jared Cardon Aug. 8, 2009.

Now Unified police officer Jared Cardon Aug. 8, 2009.

Michael Brandy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Unified police officer Jared Cardon had just arrived at the hospital after being hit by a fleeing vehicle traveling 100 mph.

But the first phone call he made after arriving wasn't to his wife or a family member. It was to his attorney.

"Jared's laying in a hospital bed wondering how this is going to be twisted and (worried that) he's going to be charged with some sort of crime," attorney Lindsay Jarvis said Wednesday.

Cardon once faced criminal charges himself, after he fired a gun at the driver of a vehicle who he believed was trying to hit him.

On July 30, Cardon was using road spikes to try to stop a man with an extensive criminal history — one that included several incidents of fleeing — who was leading officers a high speed chase.

As the suspect, Tyrel Elsworth Cox, 31, sped along state Route 201, he apparently spotted Cardon on the shoulder throwing tire spikes out onto the road. Police say Cox intentionally swerved his vehicle to hit him.

Cardon was thrown 10 feet in the air and landed on his back, Jarvis said. Originally it was reported he had two broken legs. Then just one. Then came word that amazingly, he had no broken bones at all.

"By the grace of God, we don't know how, he only sustained a significant skin injury," Jarvis said. "He knows he's a very lucky man. Someone is keeping an eye on him because there's really no explanation why he should be alive right now."

On Wednesday, Jarvis and Utah Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Ian Adams addressed members of the media to raise attention to two issues.

The first was to publicly encourage Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill to charge Cox with attempted murder.

"Vehicles absolutely are a weapon. This is a classic case of attempted homicide against an officer," Adams said. "The offender in this case purposely drove over 100 mph into officer Cardon. It very easily could have resulted in the death of officer Cardon.

"Anything less (that an attempted murder charge) is an insult to the police officers who risk their lives everyday in this community, and is an insult to the community itself that somehow its protectors aren't valued," he said.

"In this case, Jared's injuries are not indicative of what he went through. But still, nonetheless, the intent on behalf of the suspect was to kill him," Jarvis added.

The other reason the order brought attention to the case Wednesday is because of the irony of who was involved in the incident.

In 2011, Cardon, who was at that time a West Valley police officer, shot at an oncoming fleeing vehicle. Cardon said he fired his weapon in order to protect himself and others. But the district attorney's office determined that he was not in imminent danger and said his shots could have injured others.

Gill determined the shooting was not legally justified. Cardon was charged with reckless endangerment, a class A misdemeanor. Prosecutors later dropped the charges after concerns were raised about the evidence. About 20 officers wearing Fraternal Order of Police T-shirts filled nearly every row of the courtroom during that hearing to support Cardon as the charge was dismissed. Cardon resigned from the West Valley Police Department before the charges were filed.

In 2009, Cardon was sued in federal court by a man who accused him of using excessive force and violating his constitutionally afforded protection against unreasonable search and seizure during a traffic stop. A jury, however, ruled in favor of Cardon.

In 2007, in yet another incident involving a car, Cardon used deadly force against a man who appeared to be getting ready to hit him with a stolen car. Former Salt Lake County District Attorney Lohra Miller determined that shooting was legally justified.

Cardon also made news in April. This time, being called a hero for pulling a man and a cat out of a burning house in Taylorsville.

Gill said Wednesday that every case is looked at on an individual basis. His office began reviewing the case against Cox on Wednesday and should have a decision on what charges to file on Thursday.

He said the FOP and any other groups are free to discuss all they want about what charges they believe should be filed. But ultimately, "you screen your matters based on the evidence, and you make your decisions based on the evidence," he said.

Gill could not say whether he would file an attempted murder charge against Cox or not. He said the mental state and the actions of the suspect as well as all the evidence collected from the scene will be examined in making a determination.

The FOP has been openly critical of Gill's office in recent years due in part to several officer-involved shootings that were determined to be not legally justified, such as Cardon and the shooting of Danielle Willard by former West Valley police detective Shaun Cowley.

Cox's extensive criminal history in Utah dates back to at least 2001 in adult court, according to court records, and includes convictions for forgery, attempted theft by receiving stolen property and fleeing.

In 2009, Cox was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison for convictions of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. He was later sentenced to another year in federal prison for violating the terms of his supervised released in 2012, according to court records.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam