UHP Troopers Protect Protesters From Man With Knife

Jun 16, 2020, 6:01 PM | Updated: 8:35 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Protests have been a familiar scene outside the Utah State Capitol over the past two weeks.

Almost every night, hundreds of people have shown up, demanding change and accountability from law enforcement.

Some have signs critical toward police officers.

Even though Utah Highway Patrol troopers outside the state capitol don’t react to the signs, they sure do see them.

“We see that kind of anger and hate sometimes displayed towards us,” said Sgt. Chris Turley.

Sgt. Turley has been among the troopers guarding the capitol against any more vandalism.

He knows people are upset, and agrees they have every right to protest, even if they are critical toward his chosen occupation.

“It’s been challenging the past few weeks,” said Turley.

This past Sunday, though, he noticed something different.

Troopers saw a man coming from the street and approaching protesters with a knife.

“I’d estimate the blade on the knife to be eight to 10 inches long,” Turley said. “It was definitely a dangerous weapon.”

Turley and another trooper, Zachary Gerrard, asked the man to stop.

“It appeared he was walking toward a black male and a white female who were sitting at the top of the stairs. He was directing derogatory statements toward the black male and shouting at him,” said Turley.

The troopers talked to the man and eventually got him to drop his knife.

That man, 55-year old Lawrence Valdez, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and intoxication.

“He was communicating that he was intending to do harm to somebody,” said UHP Col. Michael Rapich.

However, it never came to that because Rapich said troopers de-escalated the situation and stopped it peacefully.

“I mean, when we’re talking about how do we want the best outcome? This was a great example of that,” Rapich said.

For Turley, he said he was just doing his job.

“We’re here to serve everyone, regardless of their thoughts towards us,” he said. “We just want everyone’s rights to be upheld, and we want to see everyone go home safely each day.”

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UHP Troopers Protect Protesters From Man With Knife