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Audio recording that captured fatal federal courthouse shooting made public

FILE - Media interview people outside the federal court in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017.
FILE - Media interview people outside the federal court in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — An audio recording of the fatal courtroom shooting of an accused gang member in the middle of his trial was made public for the first time Thursday.

The recording of the jury trial on April 21, 2014, captured sounds of chaos as Siale Angilau, 25, lunged at a man on the witness stand and was shot and killed.

Angilau was the last of 16 Tongan Crip Gang members being tried under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and the case was among the first heard in the downtown federal courthouse, which had only been open a week.

As a witness named Vaiola Tenifa testified about the inner workings of the gang, including recruitment efforts, jumping in new members and participation by children as young as 9 years old, a shuffling is heard in the recording.

A sound of someone apparently bumping one of the courtroom's microphones follows, as a man calls out, "Whoa, whoa, whoa!" and "Hey!"

After about four seconds of building commotion, four gunshots ring out, followed by shouts from several male voices ordering, "Get down on the ground," "Nobody move," and "Drop the pen out of your hand."

Weeping can be heard in the background as the jury is hurried out of the courtroom and a 911 call is made to "the new U.S. federal courthouse."

Angilau later died of his wounds. The FBI said Angilau had picked up a pen and charged at the man on the witness stand. The U.S. marshal who shot Angilau has never been identified but was cleared in the shooting following an FBI investigation.

While the marshal is identified in court documents as "Jane Doe," the voices in the recording are predominantly male.

The audio was admitted as evidence earlier this year as family members of Angilau pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, calling the actions of the marshal who shot Angilau "particularly unreasonable, reckless and constitutionally excessive."

Both the attorney representing the family and a coalition of Utah journalists led by the Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists have made a joint request under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking security footage from the courtroom that captured the shooting.

Utah SPJ has maintained it takes no stance on whether the shooting was justified, but that records of the incident should be open to the public.

Government attorneys claim that releasing the footage would compromise public safety.

David Reymann, an attorney representing the group of media, argued Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Cleary that the video be unsealed as a matter of public record. Cleary has taken the matter under advisement.

Meanwhile, it was confirmed in the hearing that while the video remains sealed, the audio of Angilau's trial does not, according to Reymann. Copies of the recording were made available Thursday.

The Angilau family's wrongful death lawsuit is ongoing.