SALT LAKE CITY — A Unified police officer who shot and killed a man holding a woman hostage inside a vehicle at knifepoint will not face criminal charges.
But while prosecutors say they believe officer Trever McLelland's use of deadly force would be determined to be justified if the case went to court, he followed the recent trend of other law enforcers being investigated for critical incidents who declined to be interviewed by the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office.
On April 17, police received a report of a man threatening to kill a hostage, according to the district attorney's report. Investigators later determined that Lonnie Marcel Bowen, 41, made that call.
Officers searching for the source of the call found a truck with Bowen inside. He led police on a chase that ended near the intersection of 2700 South and 8400 West.
As McLelland and a West Valley officer approached the vehicle, they yelled at Bowen to "Let her go!" Let her go!" the report states. When Bowen did not follow orders, McLelland fired five rounds from his rifle, killing him, according to the report.
The West Valley officer who was with McLelland said he saw Bowen holding the woman inside the cab but did not see a weapon, the report states. But when authorities later reviewed the officer's body camera video, they saw a knife still in Bowen's hand after he was shot, according to the report.
"Officer Pepper said he saw that the man had his arms around the woman's neck and was pulling her back toward him in the passenger seat," according to the report.
The woman, an ex-girlfriend of Bowen, said she ran into him earlier that night and he seemed to be "off his meds" and in a "mentally distressed state," the report states. She later told police that Bowen seemed "delusional" and "talked about police officers hiding inside the truck."
The woman said Bowen punched her and held a knife to her throat threatening to kill her several times as they drove around the valley, according to Gill's report. At one point, Bowen told the woman to run over the police officers, she told investigators, but she refused.
Just before he was shot, the woman said she begged Bowen, "Please don't do this, just get out." Bowen yelled to police, "This is a hostage situation, I'll kill her," the woman told investigators. She said he then held the knife tighter to her and told her, "You're going to cover me," the report states.
Bowen had several encounters with police in the weeks leading up to being shot, and had issues with mental illness and drug abuse, according to prior police reports. Just two days before he was shot, Bowen posted several videos on Facebook claiming police were out to kill him.
Earlier this month, it was announced that no charges would be filed against Cottonwood Heights police officer Casey Davies for using deadly force on Zane Anthony James. Granite School District police officer Jonathan Sidhu and Adult Probation and Parole officer Daniel Hampton were also cleared in shootings prior to that. But in all four cases, the officers declined to be interviewed as part of the investigations.
Cottonwood Heights Police Chief Robby Russo said the problem is a rift between Gill and the Fraternal Order of Police, and officers are being told by their attorneys not to speak to Gill.