Witness Describes Incident That Led to Provo Police Officer’s Death
LEHI, Utah – Delene Ostler was visiting Utah to meet her new grandchild on January 5, when she and her husband drove past a police scene in Orem just before 10:00 p.m.
“There were, I couldn’t tell you how many police cars, but they were surrounding a white truck,” Ostler said from her daughter’s home in Lehi Sunday.
Her husband stopped their car and they watched as officers approached the truck. Ostler started shooting video on her phone.
“The cops were yelling in the very beginning, ‘Put the gun down! Put the gun down!’,” she said.
Then, she noticed one of the officers walk away from the truck. Video shows him walking from the passenger side to the rear of the truck, where he knelt down.
He did not appear to be requesting help from anyone and several officers ran past him to the cab of the truck, where they had been trying to arrest a man.
Ostler and her husband did not realize anything was wrong. They thought he might have been kneeling to talk on a radio.
“I don’t think anyone knew that something was wrong. Eventually an officer knelt down beside him and then he helped the injured officer up,” Ostler said.
About 20 seconds after he began to kneel on the ground, video shows another officer approach and check on him.
The two got up and walked out of view of the camera. About 25 seconds later, officers rushed him to the backseat of one of their vehicles, which then pulled away with its lights and sirens activated.
“It just took off so fast and we knew that there was a police officer in it, so we figured something was terribly wrong,” Ostler said.
Sunday afternoon, Provo Police announced 29-year-old officer Joseph Shinners had been shot and killed.
Provo Police Chief Rich Ferguson said Shinners returned fire, hitting the man they had been trying to arrest once.
Police did not release that man’s identity, but said he was stable and under guard at a local hospital. An investigator said that man may face a charge of aggravated murder of a police officer.
Chief Ferguson said Sunday that he had posthumously promoted Shinners to the rank of master officer.
“He was the very best of the Provo Police Department,” Ferguson said.
Shinners had been with the department for three years. Ferguson said Shinners was married with a 1-year-old son.
Delene Ostler said she was sad to hear Sunday morning that Shinners had died. She said witnessing the event made her thankful for people like him.
“It’s good to know that there are people who are going to stand in between you and the bad guys and unfortunately one of them’s not with us anymore,” she said.
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