LOCAL NEWS

Wife Of Man Killed By Police Speaks Out After Shooting Ruled Justified

May 20, 2021, 10:24 PM | Updated: May 21, 2021, 7:39 am

HOLLADAY, Utah – On the day that Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said the police shooting of a suicidal man last August was justified, the man’s widow spoke for the first time about what happened that August day last year.

Under the law, Gill said the officers did what they were, in essence, trained to do but he questioned whether they unintentionally escalated a crisis situation.

Alexis Hilbelink said her husband Matt Hilbelink lived a full life. He was a beloved father, an avid hiker, and passionate about his job.

“Matt was a teacher at the Intermountain Christian School for 14 years,” Alexis Hilbelink said. “He had struggles over the years but I felt like we were on top of it a lot with medication management.”

Alexis said the pandemic took a toll on Matt’s mental health. He suffered from depression. “A lot of the mental health services went away.”

Last August, Alexis felt blindsided when Matt sent a text saying he bought a gun.

“He just bought it that morning, like a couple of hours prior.” He said he was going to take his life.

“It just escalated so fast,” she described. Panicked, she called 9-1-1 for help.

“I called them okay, great, the police are there – they are going to help him. Nowhere in a million years did I think that was the scenario playing out at work.”

For 24 minutes, Unified Police Officers tried to get Matt to put down the gun as they waited for a negotiator to arrive.

Gill released the body cam video from that incident on Thursday.  It recorded what the officers said to Matt.

“Talk to us about what’s upsetting ya,” one of the officers said. “It helps to talk about it.”

Tensions rose when Matt raised the gun towards the officers. It ended when an officer fired a single fatal shot.

Gill found the shooting justified, nevertheless troubling.

“This is a shooting that did not need to happen,” he said.

“When we call our police officers, we hope for help not for them to shoot somebody,” Alexis said.

She said the hardest part has been watching her children grieve their father.

“It’s awful to watch all of your kids go through that.”

She’s hopeful that a new state law can prevent officer-involved shootings during a mental health crisis.

The law allows police to pull back from a crisis situation if the person is a threat only to themselves.

“Maybe they’ll just back off and be like you know what let’s look at this perimeter, he’s not a threat to anybody else. He’s in a safe spot, he’s sitting down, we can step away and wait and see what happens,” Alexis said.

She feels there’s a need for more mental health resources for people in crisis, family members, and training resources for officers.

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Wife Of Man Killed By Police Speaks Out After Shooting Ruled Justified