West Valley City Police release body-camera videos from Elijah Smith shooting

Apr 17, 2018, 9:55 PM | Updated: Apr 18, 2018, 1:23 am

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – The West Valley City Police Department released three body-camera videos from a shooting that left 20-year-old Elijah Smith dead.

Chief Colleen Jacobs said they wanted to release the videos of the April 8 shooting as quickly as possible in the interest of transparency, but had to wait until April 17, so as not to interfere with the Unified Police investigation into the shooting.

The videos show three officers go into a house. A child who meets them at the door tells them someone is in the house and went into the garage. The officers are seen going into the garage and shouting at Smith to put his hands up. Smith walks into view and puts his left hand up, but the video shows his right hand remains near his pants pocket. As the officers continue shouting at Smith to show them his hands, his right hand abruptly moves upward from his pocket. That’s when one officer fires his handgun three times and another fires his taser. Smith was killed.

“From viewing this video, my officers followed protocol,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs said it was the abrupt motion of Smith’s hand that prompted the officers to fire.

“It’s that it came up in a rapid, draw-stroke motion. They perceived that as a threat,” she said.

Jacobs said officers found a screwdriver with some kind of a modification to it on the ground next to Smith. She did not go into detail about what the modification was. She said they believe it was in his pocket.

All three officers were initially put on leave during the investigation. Tuesday, Chief Jacobs said two had returned, but the officer who fired his gun remains on leave.

Smith’s family said Tuesday afternoon that they had not yet seen the video and would consult with their attorney. They were present as protesters rallied Saturday demanding the release of the body-camera footage.

Jacobs said she felt for Smith’s family.

“I am sad for their loss. It is an unfortunate incident that Mr. Smith lost his life during this incident,” Jacobs said.

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West Valley City Police release body-camera videos from Elijah Smith shooting