SALT LAKE CITY — The wife of a man killed by a West Valley police officer last year is suing him, the city and others involved in the fatal shooting.

Christine Nielson claims in the federal lawsuit that West Valley police officer Jason Vincent wrongfully shot her husband, Jeff R. Nielson, after stopping on his way to work to investigate him in January 2015.

The use of deadly force against Nielson — who had not committed any violent crimes, was unarmed and was being detained by officers at the time — was without justification or provocation, and occurred in part as a result of police unnecessarily escalating the situation, according to the lawsuit.

Vincent and three officers from Draper and West Valley City attempted to arrest Nielson, 34, of Sandy, for a narcotics violation. He initially cooperated with police and appeared to be calm, but when an officer attempted to switch out the handcuffs on Nielson for another pair, Nielson ran to his truck.

All four officers tried to pull Nielson out of his vehicle in a violent struggle. Vincent delivered "distraction blows" to the back of Nielson's head in an attempt to get him to stop, but he continued to resist the officers, according to a Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office report.

As Nielson struggled to get back in the cab again, Vincent yelled, "Knife!" Vincent fired five shots striking Nielson twice in the side, once in the chest, another in the arm and once in the back.

The district attorney's office concluded last April that the shooting was legally justified.

While Vincent claims Nielson had a knife and was making stabbing motions, the talk among officers captured on a police body camera after the gunshots compromises Vincent's assertion, according to the lawsuit.

In addition to Vincent, the suit names Draper Police Sgt. David Harris and Draper police officer Walter Deutsch, West Valley Police Sgt. Barbara Lund, West Valley City and Draper as defendants. It seeks an unspecified amount in damages.


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