Efforts Underway To Review Utah’s Use-Of-Force Laws

Jul 10, 2020, 7:07 PM | Updated: Oct 30, 2022, 11:11 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall has called for changes to city policies and Utah’s laws that dictate when officers are allowed to use lethal force.

“It’s important to me that both our officers and the public be made more safe by whatever changes might be contemplated,” she said.

During an hour-long meeting with the KSL and Deseret News editorial boards Friday, Mendenhall said Utah’s current statutes allow for too much leniency when it comes to the use of deadly tactics by police.

“I think we’re at the beginning of the technical contemplation of how that state code could change,” she said.

The comments came a day after Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced that his office determined that two city officers were justified in the shooting death of Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal.

“I think that there was more evidence than I expected to show the justification of the actions of the Salt Lake City police officers,” Mendenhall said, adding that Gill’s decision showed officers acted according to the law and their trainings.

However, Mendenhall said that there is “a moral disconnect for many people between what is justified today and what the law should be reshaped to reflect morally, somehow, in the future.”

The mayor also called for peaceful protests and for citizens to allow time for various groups to start the process of reviewing policies and laws.

“I implore people to stop hurting people and stop breaking things because it is not affecting change whatsoever,” Mendenhall said.

During his announcement about the Palacios-Carbajal investigation, Gill said that he will soon be releasing his own recommendations on reforms.

“My office will release a set of proposals to start the conversation on how those laws may be changed and go through that process to make sure that it reflects the ideals and the values that we want as a community,” Gill said. “If we want different outcomes, then we need to change the law.”

Salt Lake City’s newly-formed Racial Equity In Policing Commission issued a statement saying that communities of color are tired after repeatedly asking for change.

“As acknowledged by the Salt Lake County DA himself today, our standards for deadly force are too broad,” the commission said. “There is a gap in this instance, and in other policies and practices both in Salt Lake City and throughout our state, between what is legal and what is truly right and just.”

The commission’s statement also spoke directly to the Palacios family.

“We know that our words cannot begin to help you heal, but our intent is that you may someday find solace in our actions and efforts to ensure that no family should ever find themselves in the position you are in now,” the statement read.

The Salt Lake City Police Department Citizens Advisory Board also released a statement requesting that standards be implemented to ban the use of deadly force when preventing a fleeing suspect from escaping.

“We believe that shooting Bernardo in excess of 30 times as he was running away from officers was an egregious misuse of force,” the advisory board’s statement said. “These are not acceptable actions representative of the manner of policing we support and want to continue seeing implemented in our community.”

KSL 5 TV Live

SLC Protest

Rioters flipped and set a Salt Lake City Police car on fire during the riot in Downtown on May 30, ...

Dan Rascon, KSL TV

No jail time for man who set police car on fire during 2020 riots in SLC

A federal judge granted mercy to a man who set fire to a Salt Lake City police car during the 2020 riots in downtown. 

2 years ago

Rioters flipped and set a Salt Lake City Police car on fire during the riot in Downtown on May 30, ...

Alex Cabrero, KSL TV

SLC Police Chief Reflects On Downtown Riot Nearly One Year Later

Protests and riots broke out around the country a year ago following the death of George Floyd. That unrest later spread to Salt Lake City where a police car was flipped and lit on fire. Police Chief Mike Brown sat down with KSL-TV nearly a year later to reflect back on the day that changed the city and his department. 

3 years ago

Body camera footage obtained exclusively by KSL TV shows the moment a protester threw a rock at a S...

Alex Cabrero

Remembering A Summer Filled With Protests In Utah

In a year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, a presidential election, and even a serious earthquake, one of the biggest stories here in Utah is what happened on a Saturday afternoon in May. A protest in downtown Salt Lake City turned violent, leaving us with images many never thought we'd see here.

3 years ago

Protesters and police officers line a street in downtown Salt Lake City Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Sh...

Matthew Jacobson, KSL TV

SLCPD Officer Who Pushed Elderly Man During Protest Will Not Be Charged

At the request of the victim, no criminal charges will be filed against an officer who was captured on video pushing an elderly man to the ground during a protest in Salt Lake City.

3 years ago


Tania Dean, KSL TV

Protestors March To State Capitol Armed With Guns

A group of protestors marched to the Capitol to rally against police brutality and in favor of equality, but the difference in Sunday's rally was that most of the protestors were armed with semi-automatic weapons.

4 years ago

FILE: Salt Lake City County Building (Getty Images)...

Matt Rascon, KSL TV

SLC’s Commission On Racial Equity Holds First Weekly Meeting

Salt Lake City's newly-formed commission on racial equity met for the first time Wednesday.

4 years ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Efforts Underway To Review Utah’s Use-Of-Force Laws