KSL INVESTIGATES

KSL Investigators Explore 2012 Ogden Officer-Involved Shooting That Led To Law Changes

May 28, 2020, 10:18 PM | Updated: 10:30 pm

OGDEN, Utah – Eight years after the Ogden Police Department was involved in one of the worst officer-involved incidents in the state’s history, the KSL Investigators re-examined the case to determine what changes have been made since the devastating case that claimed the life of one officer and injured six others.

On Jan. 4, 2012, members of the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force were serving a search warrant at the home of Matthew David Stewart, when the suspect began firing at multiple officers.

Officers from Ogden, Roy and the Weber County Sheriff’s Office thought they would be searching an empty home for evidence of an illegal marijuana grow. Instead, Stewart fired 31 shots that night. Seventeen of them struck officers.

The shootout caught the task force by surprise.

Ogden police officer Jared Francom was one of six police officers shot while serving a search warrant on Jan. 4, 2012. He died early the next morning. (Photo Courtesy Ogden City Police Department)

Ogden police officer Jared Francom was shot and killed during the raid on the suspected drug house. Francom was shot six times and died the next morning. His colleagues – officers Kasey Burrell, Shawn Grogan and Michael Rounkles, along with Weber County Sheriff’s Sgt. Nate Hutchinson and Roy police officer Jason Vanderwarf were all injured.

In the months and years after the fatal incident, law enforcement learned many lessons. An internal review found four violations, including communication issues and officers who were not wearing protective vests and did not have backup ammunition at the time. 

Five officers were wounded in the 2012 incident.

The review also recommended 12 policy changes. Among them: more training, more preparation before a warrant is served and supervisors conducting a gear check before entering a home. These lessons were adopted by police departments across Utah. 

“It was a tragic set of circumstances,” said retired Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank.

Burbank was the chief of police in Salt Lake City at the time of the 2012 incident. 

Salt Lake City was larger and so much busier early on. Unfortunately, [we] probably went through a lot of those failures, but a long time ago. And so, we learned from that and established protocols that will minimize our risk in those situations,” Burbank explained.

In 2014, the Utah Legislature passed House bill 70, amending state law on forcible entry by police. The law essentially required law enforcement to use the least amount of force necessary and to do more preparation, ensuring they have sufficient probable cause ahead of such entry.

Burbank said the law increased the level of scrutiny required before conducting such operations. In plain language, a much higher standard is involved and required.

“Reasonable suspicion is this idea that I have pretty good belief; reason to think that this is the circumstance. Probable cause is that next step, which says, yep, I know this occurred, and here’s the facts that I have in order to document that,” he said.

Responding to Thursday’s fatal incident sparked by a domestic disturbance call in Ogden, Burbank said there is so much more that needs to be done to ensure greater safety for law enforcement officers and the general public, as a whole.

“There’s just nothing good about the circumstance. It really does represent a failure of our entire society when this happens,” he said.

Thursday’s fatal officer-involved shooting took place just across town from the 2012 incident.

RELATED STORIES

Jan. 5, 2017: ‘It Was Chaos’: Former Ogden Officer Shares Details Of Shooting That Killed Comrade

Jan. 11, 2012: Slain Officer Francom Remembered As Devoted Father; Thousands Attend Funeral

April 9, 2012: Video Of Tragic Ogden Police Shooting Released

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KSL Investigators Explore 2012 Ogden Officer-Involved Shooting That Led To Law Changes