Video: ‘Drop the pen!’ yelled after deadly SLC courtroom shooting
SALT LAKE CITY – A newly released video shows what happened inside a Salt Lake City courtroom in April 2014, that led a U.S. marshal to open fire and kill the man on trial after he lunged at a witness.
The short video clip starts with the inside of a federal courtroom as Tongan Crips gang member Siale Angilau, 25, stands trial for racketeering. In a matter of seconds, Angilau stands, grabs a pen off the defense table, runs and jumps at the man in the witness stand.
As the shackled witness dodges the attack, a U.S. Marshal, only identified in court documents as Jane Doe, fired four shots—all of them hitting Angilau. He later died at the hospital. After the shooting, there is shouting for Angilau to “drop the pen.”
Angilau’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, arguing that the witness was out of harm’s way by the time the first shot is fired.
“I think that a jury should see this video,” said the family’s attorney Robert Sykes, “and make a decision about whether that was appropriate force.”
On Friday, U.S. District Judge John E. Dowdell dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that under the totality of the circumstances, the marshal’s “use of deadly force against Angilau was objectively reasonable and did not violate his Fourth Amendment rights.”
The ruling goes on to say that the other officers in that position “would have had probable cause to believe that Angilau posed a threat of serious physical harm to others in the courtroom.
While Angilau’s family decides if they will appeal the judge’s decision, their attorney said they are happy that the public is at least seeing the video.
“They don’t need to shoot this young man,” Sykes told KSL while reviewing the video. “Those last three shots were all after he’s been shot once down on the ground in the back and that’s the problem I have with this case, there was no necessity to use force.”
The unsealing of the courtroom video was a matter of intense debate with the Justice Department hoping to block its release. Federal attorneys worried it could lead gang members to retaliate against the U.S. marshal who fired the shots.
The same day the lawsuit was dismissed, Judge Dowdell also ordered the release of a pixelated version of the video. His order states that the blurred video guards against danger since the U.S. marshal “cannot be identified in the pixelated video.”