LOCAL NEWS

Salt Lake Co. DA Rules Officer Justified In Fatal Shooting Of Handcuffed Man In West Valley

Jul 22, 2021, 12:35 PM | Updated: Aug 23, 2021, 10:26 am
This still from body camera from Aug. 22, 2019, shows officers and Chad Breinholt stuggling in the ...
This still from body camera from Aug. 22, 2019, shows officers and Chad Breinholt stuggling in the processing room in the basement of West Valley City Hall. (WVCPD)
(WVCPD)

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill has ruled West Valley City police were justified in shooting and killing a 31-year-old man who was handcuffed and in custody at West Valley City Hall.

Gill announced his finding at a press conference Thursday, which came at the conclusion of a nearly two-year investigation from the Salt Lake City Police Department into the shooting.

Police took Chad Breinholt, 31, into custody on Aug. 22, 2019, after they said he showed up intoxicated at his girlfriend’s job and was causing problems.

Breinholt was in the department’s small processing room in the basement of West Valley City Hall, when he reached for an officer’s gun.

West Valley City police released some body camera footage of the incident, which showed the chaotic six-second scuffle before Sgt. Tyler Longman shot Breinholt at point-blank range, killing him.

In the video, Longman said, “You’re about to die, my friend,” just before he shot Breinholt. Gill said upon further view, additional body camera footage showed Longman started saying those words before he entered the processing room, and Longman’s gun was holstered when he entered the room.

The DA said Longman also engaged in non-lethal methods by attempting to push Breinholt away with his hands.

Gill said footage from other WVCPD officers showed Breinholt was attempting to grip the gun before he was shot. Gill added officers testified Breinholt was applying a “tremendous” amount of force on the hoster.

West Valley City’s police spokesperson told KSL-TV in a statement that Sgt. Longman has returned to full duty. 

“While we recognize the gravity of this incident, we are pleased that, after nearly two years of scrutiny, the District Attorney’s Office has found our officer justified in his actions,” said a statement from West Valley City Police Department spokesperson Roxeanne Vainuku. “This decision brings to a close a challenging chapter for all involved. We are grateful to our officers who diligently serve our community each day, and in the face of impossibly difficult decisions, consistently do their best.”  

Vainuku also said that inside the city’s new police building that officers have access to a secure area for processing those in custody and that they are required to place their weapons in lockers before entering.  

“These changes in facility and policy effectively prevent the disarming of a police officer from occurring under these circumstances in the future,” her statement said. 

Breinholt’s mother said she believes the shooting was not justified and her son wanted to overcome an addiction she fears may have cost him his life.

Breinholt’s family also expressed concerns over how long it took to determine whether his shooting was justified.

Gill said he understands the perspective of a feeling unjustified when the legal outcome doesn’t meet society’s moral standards.

He said the shooting “shouldn’t sit well with anyone,” but he has to consider the case under the state’s current laws. Gill said he cannot overcome the fact that Breinholt reached for the gun, it could have come out of the holster at any time and the officers consistently said they feared for their lives.

Gill added he does not consider the officer’s previous history, just as he doesn’t consider a suspect’s criminal history unless it is directly relevant to an investigation.

“We have to start learning from this,” Gill said, saying while Breinholt was intoxicated and acting irrationally, he thinks Breinholt’s death could have been averted.

“But the law is very clear,” Gill said, referring to the state’s current affirmative action law and his decision to not file charges against Longman.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Salt Lake City police at a hit and run where a driver fled his truck after causing a gas leak. (SLC...
Michael Houck

Police: Hit and run crash causes gas leak, suspect fled on bicycle

A truck driver caused a gas leak after hitting a building and fleeing the scene Monday morning. 
14 hours ago
(Derek Petersen/KSL TV)...
Casey Scott, KSL TV

A beautiful morning at Bear Lake with Casey Scott and Chopper 5

It's Monday, which means Casey Scott was in Chopper 5 to highlight a part of our beautiful state.
14 hours ago
(KSL TV)...
Eliza Pace

100 Utah women sign statement ‘standing together’ against harassment in politics

On Monday, 100 women, Democrats and Republicans signed a statement "standing together" against harassment in politics. 
14 hours ago
FILE - This police camera video provided by The Moab Police Department shows Gabrielle "Gabby" Peti...
Eliza Pace

Family of Gabby Petito files $50 million ‘wrongful death’ lawsuit against Moab PD

Gabby Petito's family announced with their attorneys that they would be filing a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against the Moab City Police Department for the death of their daughter.
14 hours ago
FILE: A West Valley police car. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)...
Josh Ellis

Crowd lifts car off man after suspected DUI driver crashes through wall

A man has been arrested on suspicion of DUI after police say he crashed through a retaining wall and into the parking lot of an apartment complex.
14 hours ago
Jessie Liddlard, 25, who was hit by a falling rock while rock climbing....
Shelby Lofton

Hiker seriously injured by falling rock in Little Cottonwood Canyon

A 25-year-old woman is recovering in the hospital after a volleyball-sized rock hit her head while rock climbing Friday.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
...
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...
AARP Utah

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Salt Lake Co. DA Rules Officer Justified In Fatal Shooting Of Handcuffed Man In West Valley