No charges against West Valley City Police Officer for April Shooting
Sep 21, 2018, 3:59 PM | Updated: 9:19 pm
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Salt County District Attorney Sim Gill will not file criminal charges against West Valley City police officer Nicholaus Green for shooting Elijah Smith, 20, inside a garage in April.
Gill said he doesn’t know why Green chose to fire his weapon that day because he declined to be interviewed by investigators.
But Gill said, “We believe Officer Green would be legally entitled to the affirmative defense of justification under Utah state law.”
Gill reviewed his investigation with reporters at a press conference Friday, Sept. 21, where he showed body camera video worn by the officers.
Three West Valley City Officers were running after 20-year-old Elijah Smith on April 8th 2018 following a theft from a phone store. Smith ran into a home, where three children were staying, and hid in the garage.
As Gill replayed the video he showed how the officers shouted out commands to Smith when they spotted him in the garage.
“Officers shouted, ‘Both hands, both hands, get your hands out of the pocket,’” said Gill.
The video showed Smith raising his left hand but repeatedly putting his right hand into either his pants or sweatshirt pocket. Suddenly, the video showed Smith pulling his right hand out of a pocket, with his elbow near his shoulder, and that’s when Officer George Martinez fired his taser and Officer Nicholaus Green fired his gun, killing Smith.
“As you can see, (Smith’s) right hand has the long edge of a screwdriver,” said Gill.
Based on interviews with the other officers and the evidence at the scene Gill said he believed Green would be able to justify his actions if he were taken to a trial. But Gill said he did not know for sure why Green fired his weapon.
Gill said he spoke with members of Smith’s family for two hours the morning of the press conference. He said they were generally satisfied with his answers to some of their questions, but they were still grieving.
“They have a son, a brother, a nephew, who has died, they are a family that his grieving,” said Gill.
One of Smith’s family members declined to be interviewed saying the family was not ready. The family member said they still had some unanswered questions.
West Valley City Police spokesperson Roxanne Vainuku said, “(Green) continues on modified assignment pending the results of our internal review.”