Police officers in Salt Lake shot dead a man they said was charged after them with a knife in Pioneer Park on Thursday, June 10, 2021. The man is believed to have stabbed a woman minutes earlier. (Meghan Thackrey, KSL TV)
SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake Police on Thursday shot dead a man suspected of stabbing and seriously injuring a woman in Pioneer Park after saying he charged police officers.
Police responded around 8:46 a.m. Thursday and were assisting a knife victim on the north side of the park near 300 south and 300 west. About two minutes later, officers were directed to a nearby man suspected of stabbing the woman, Salt Lake Police Chief Mike Brown said.
As they walked towards him, one of the officers noticed the man holding a knife. The officers stopped and told the man to put the knife down, but he started walking towards the officers and then ran towards them with the knife in his hand, Brown said.
Officers continued to order the man to put the knife down, but he continued to run towards them, according to the chief. When the man got close enough to the officers, two officers fired their guns.
Salt Lake Fire Chief Karl Lieb said four firefighters were putting the woman in the ambulance when the shooting occurred. He said two of them left the ambulance in an attempt to save the man’s life. Medical staff tried to resuscitate him for 20 to 25 minutes, but the man suffered cardiac arrest and died at the scene, Lieb said.
The man had not been identified Thursday afternoon and Brown said he did not know where he was shot.
Several witnesses sThe man stabbed the woman in the park and then the police shot him. Brown said officers assumed it was the same man who stabbed the woman but had not yet confirmed it. Police said they did not know the relationship between the woman who was stabbed and her attacker.
The woman suffered serious injuries and was taken to hospital, where Brown said she remained in critical condition. She had an arterial injury to her arm, as well as an abdominal injury, according to Lieb.
Construction workers who were near the park and rescued the woman before emergency personnel arrived likely saved the woman’s life, according to Brown.
“Without the actions of passers-by who provided assistance, she may have died from these injuries,” he said. “I truly and sincerely believe that you saved a life today.”
Brown provided no further details about the stabbing or shooting on Thursday.
Police body camera footage of the shooting will be released within 10 days in accordance with Salt Lake City’s transparency policy, the chief said. The protocol for investigating critical incidents involving Salt Lake County officers has been activated, and an investigative team led by West Valley Police will investigate both the stabbing and shooting by police, Salt Lake Police Detective Michael Ruff said.
Brown – who said he saw body camera footage of the incident – believes the officers who shot the man saved lives.
“The officers placed themselves in an extremely dangerous situation where they were forced to make a split second decision,” he said. “They made the decision to protect the community, our brothers and sisters in the Salt Lake City Fire Department and themselves.”
He added that the gunman rushed towards the officers at full speed and that their actions fell fully within their training as members of the department.
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, who said she also saw body camera footage of the shooting, believes officers had no other options.
“I believe it was a choice they had to make,” said the mayor.
Mendenhall said the town had seen a 15% decrease in shootings involving officers in the past six months, which she attributed to training reforms in the department.
“We are grateful to have seen a decrease,” she said.
Brown said officers had “worked very hard” over the past year to reduce such incidents, but said there was little they could do and some incidents had to happen over time.
Contributing: Morgan Wolfe, KSL TV