Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill says he believes two Herriman officers had no choice in October 2020 but to shoot and kill an armed Salt Lake man who had fired several shots.
Isaac Lemoine Christensen, 38, had driven into the Herriman neighborhood of a woman who had a protective order against him, threatened her neighbors with a gun, and fired several rounds before sliding his way under a van with two weapons.
Herriman officers Brady Askerlund and Dustin Olzack were legally justified in opening fire when Christensen reached to grab one of the weapons in front of him, Gill announced Friday. An autopsy determined Christensen was shot nine times. Police tried to render aid but he died at the scene.
Both Askerlund and Olzack refused to be interviewed by investigators about the shooting. But other officers and witnesses gave statements for Gill's review.
Gill said Christensen was driving erratically and fast when he arrived in the neighborhood in the 5300 West block of Solafax Lane on Oct. 27, 2020, at about 10 p.m. Someone who called 911 reported "an intoxicated man in the neighborhood threatening people and he has a weapon," according to Gill's 15-page report on the shooting.
The woman also called police to notify them Christensen had driven up while playing music loudly and saying he wanted to talk with her, then phoned 911 again after a neighbor warned her that Christensen was armed, Gill said.
As officers arrived, they heard several gunshots and found Christensen a short time later lying on his stomach under a parked utility van. Officers ordered him, "Show us your hands," as well as, "Do not reach for that gun!" according to body camera footage played Friday.
"I absolutely believe that the officers have no choice at that moment," Gill said, noting recordings from multiple officers' cameras show Christensen reach for a weapon with his hand open.
The guns were unloaded, Gill said, but he's not sure whether Christensen knew that.
"I don't know if he actually forgot how he many he fired, but nonetheless he reached for that gun," Gill said Friday. "We can make natural inferences from that, but it was a tragic outcome regardless."
An obituary describes Christensen as a doting older brother and father who had a knack for calibrating color for his job at local newspaper presses in West Valley City and says he eventually became a graphic designer.
He served a Spanish-speaking mission in San Diego, California, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Isaac faced emotional, mental, and chemical challenges during the final decade of his life," the obituary reads, saying he'd sought professional help in the months before his death. "In spite of the great love felt for him by so many, Isaac experienced profound loneliness and struggled in feeling equal to life challenges."