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Officer was justified in shooting man who tried to run him over, D.A. rules

SHARE Officer was justified in shooting man who tried to run him over, D.A. rules
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Tyler Keaton Webster

Salt Lake County Jail

SALT LAKE CITY — A police officer who shot a man who investigators say tried to run the officer over will not face criminal charges.

Salt Lake police officer Jordan Winegar’s use of force on Jan. 8 against Tyler Keaton Webster, 21, of Park City, was legally justified, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said during a press conference on Friday.

Webster was shot twice but survived his injuries. He was later charged in 3rd District Court with assault on a police officer and theft, second-degree felonies; and failing to respond to the command of police, a third-degree felony. A hearing in that case is scheduled for Sept. 24.

On Jan. 8, Webster and another man had arranged to meet a man selling a Mustang GT. After taking the car for test drive and while both men were talking to the owner, Webster jumped into the driver’s seat and took off, according to police.

Two Salt Lake police officers — Winegar and officer Steven Hunter, riding in the same patrol car — spotted the stolen car just two minutes later near 1460 W. North Temple. 

Webster put his car in reverse and tried to get away from the police car, according to Gill’s report on the shooting.

“As he backed up, the driver went over the curb and up onto grass adjacent to the road where it stopped. Officer Winegar’s patrol vehicle was ‘nose to nose’ with the stolen car’s front end,” the report states.

Body camera video shows that Webster continued to rev the engine as both officers got out of their car and approached the vehicle. Winegar opened the passenger door of the Mustang and deployed his Taser which appeared to have no effect, according to the report. Webster then put the car in reverse again and started backing up.

The open passenger door hit Winegar and pushed him into a nearby guardrail, knocking the Taser out of his hand. The officer said he was “stuck on the door — I remember getting hit by the door and I couldn’t come off of that door,” the report states.

“I’m pinned, basically between the door, the guardrail and his car,” Winegar told police conducting the officer-involved shooting investigation. “There was no place for me to even go.”

Fearing that he would be dragged by the Mustang under the guardrail or crushed against it, “officer Winegar said he knew he only had one chance and a short time to stop the driver before he was run over,” the report says.

Hunter also told investigators that “he believed Mr. Webster had no regard for the lives of the officers and that Mr. Webster appeared to be trying to flee at all cost.”

As Winegar was being pushed by the car, he grabbed his gun and fired twice, hitting Webster in the right wrist and leg, the report states.

After a brief pause, Webster put his hands up and exclaimed, “You shot me!”

In body camera video released by Salt Lake policeof the incident in January, Webster can be heard yelling in pain and no longer wanting to flee from police, but asking for their assistance instead.

“Help me, please, I’m done. Please help me,” Webster said.

As the officers continue to order Webster to show his hands, Webster repeatedly responded that he is “paralyzed” and can’t move.

“I’m paralyzed dude, my legs,” Webster said.

“You were dragging me with your car, man,” the officer responded.

“I didn’t know. ... I’m sorry.”

Gill said Friday that to his knowledge, Webster is not actually paralyzed.

Although other shootings involving officers firing at moving vehicles in the past have been determined to be not legally justified, Gill said the key difference in this case was the open door that struck Winegar.

“Generally, I have taken a fairly dim view of shooting at moving vehicles,” he said. “What is unique about this, is that in this scenario the open door and the hit that it takes on officer Winegar and the pinch-point that he’s in. ... The conduct of the driver at this point is sweeping him. So he goes less lethal and at that point goes to a weapon. So he absolutely can articulate a risk to himself and a safety concern to himself under our state statute for the use of deadly force in that scenario.”

Webster was also charged for a separate similar crime on Jan. 17 with theft, a second-degree felony. In that case, Webster contacted a West Jordan man selling his Pontiac Grand Prix online on Dec. 31 and asked to take the car for a test drive. But while the car owner was locking the door to his house, Webster drove off, according to charging documents.

The shooting happened a day after Webster was arrested in Wasatch County for investigation of assault for allegedly hitting his girlfriend and breaking her car windshield, according to a police affidavit.

It also came less than a month after Webster received a suspended one- to 15-year sentence in the Utah State Prison and was ordered to serve three years of probation for being in possession of another stolen car, according to court documents.

In November he was arrested again for investigation of theft of a vehicle, according to police records. In July he was convicted of forgery. He was convicted of unlawful sexual activity with a minor when he was 18, according to court records.