PROVO — BYU football star Chaz Ah You should never have been detained and arrested last month on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana and other traffic-related offenses, Utah County Attorney David Leavitt said Wednesday in a news conference, defending his office’s handling of the high-profile case.

Because speeding and reckless driving, the reasons why a Utah County sheriff’s deputy said he pulled over Ah You the night of Feb. 9 in Eagle Mountain, are not arrestable offenses, any evidence gathered after that point — including the THC vaping pen the officer found in a center console of Ah You’s vehicle and subsequent sobriety testing for DUI — would not be admissible in court, Leavitt said.

“There is no evidence to support those crimes, and because of that my office declined to prosecute the case,” Leavitt said. “You have all seen that (police report), and if you can see something in that report that suggests how you prosecute that case, I would be happy to hear it. But there isn’t.”

Later Wednesday, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office acknowledged in a news release that “officials were made aware that there may have been procedural errors” during the arrest and also during the field sobriety tests conducted later and did not dispute Leavitt’s decision to decline prosecution.

“The deputy, who was in training, physically arrested Ah You for reckless driving. The deputy and his training deputy who made the arrest searched Ah You’s car because they intended to impound the car following the arrest. The evidence found during the inventory search would not have been found but for the physical arrest and the inventory of his car,” the news release said.

“In addition to these concerns, there are procedural concerns about how field sobriety tests were administered. The deputy’s inability to articulate the facts of the traffic stop (led) to the dismissal of the case. ... The actions of the deputies involved in this arrest have been evaluated and appropriate steps have been taken to ensure that a situation like this will not happen in the future,” the statement concluded.

Sgt. Spencer Cannon, public information officer, said the “deputy in question” has been reassigned and is no longer working in patrol. That’s not formal discipline, “but being in a training status after being promoted, he was in what Utah County calls a ‘trial period.’”

Leavitt said that although the arresting deputy wrote that he “paced” the vehicle going 75 mph in areas where the posted limit was between 35 and 55, he never got the speed on radar, and Leavitt was not made aware of any dashcam video during the case’s screening process.

“The normal course would be that if there was a dashcam video, I would have received it,” Leavitt said.

Cannon said the deputy’s car probably “has a camera, but it may not have been working.” All their patrol cars have dashcams, but this one might have been out of service, Cannon said via text message, noting that the county having nonfunctioning cameras is not all that rare.

As for the deputy’s claim that Ah You was driving recklessly, following other vehicles too closely and making improper lane changes, Leavitt said there simply isn’t enough evidence for that, either. He said the deputy followed Ah You for 7 miles before making the traffic stop.

“The report is that he changed lanes three times without signaling over 3 miles,” Leavitt said, scoffing at the notion that constitutes reckless driving. “I would suggest not a single person in this room has not done that within the last week.”

Ah You, a junior linebacker who is still enrolled at BYU, was booked into the Utah County Jail hours after the arrest and subsequently released a few hours later without bail. He pleaded not guilty to all five charges on Feb. 12.

Citing ‘lack of admissible evidence,’ Utah County Attorney declines to prosecute BYU football star Chaz Ah You in DUI case
BYU football player Chaz Ah You charged with DUI

Asked if the deputy’s discovery of two containers of alcohol (one was empty) and the vaping pen used to ingest marijuana constituted illegal search and seizure, Leavitt avoided a direct answer.

“Chaz Ah You was arrested for reckless driving,” he said. “Reckless driving is not an arrestable offense in the state of Utah. It is a citable offense. If there is no basis to search the vehicle, then there is no basis to charge because that is suppressible evidence.”

The Utah County Attorney’s Office issued a news release explaining its decision not to prosecute on Tuesday night, then called the news conference Wednesday to address reaction.

“Given the public’s interest in the case, and the fact that people are forming all sorts of opinions and conclusions, I thought it would be probably in everyone’s interest … to answer questions,” he said.

Leavitt said the “main reason” he spoke Wednesday was to assure the public that Ah You was not “let off” simply because he was and is a local high school and college football star.

“I am well aware that people in the (community) will suspect that Ah You was treated differently because (he is) a public figure,” Leavitt said. “Let’s not call (him) a football player, let’s call (him) a public figure. And something that is of particular importance to me is that a public figure not only not be treated strictly as a normal person, but my interest is that a public figure not be treated more strictly because he or she is a public figure.

“People will say naturally say, ‘He’s a BYU football player, (so) he got off. Had he been a Utah Valley tennis player, he wouldn’t have.’ And I am just here to say that that is just not the case. Again, whether you are the least of our society, or the greatest in our society, we look at the case, we deal with the facts, and we make a decision that is intended to protect us all.”

Leavitt also said a “University of Utah football player” or a “third-grade schoolteacher” or a “bricklayer from Salem, Utah,” would have been treated the same way by his office as Ah You was.

“The public shouldn’t be outraged because we are letting someone off who broke the law,” he said. “There simply was no evidence that would suggest that what he was charged with could ever be proven in court.”

Several times in the half-hour discussion, Leavitt praised the work of law enforcement officials and noted that they have difficult, dangerous jobs. 

“The message I hope you all will get here is that I am not casting (aspersions) on this officer. This officer was doing what this officer felt was right. This officer was doing what this officer felt was appropriate. This officer is, I am sure, a great guy. This isn’t about that. This isn’t about personalities. This is not about protecting a police officer. It is not about protecting a football player.

“It is about taking evidence, looking at the evidence you have without regard for position or status, and making a decision on the evidence.”

Several times he used football analogies to illustrate his point.

Regarding police work in the case, he said, “Sometimes you throw an interception, and sometimes you throw an incomplete pass. Sometimes you throw a touchdown pass. … This wasn’t a touchdown pass. Let’s put it that way.”