LOCAL NEWS

Family Calls District Attorney’s Ruling ‘Systemic Failure’

Jul 22, 2021, 6:44 PM | Updated: 7:20 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – It’s been nearly 2 years of uncertainty for them and today gives them no relief. The District Attorney was disturbed by the shooting, but said there is nothing he can do under the law.

“I want him to be remembered for the kind person he was,” Chase Breinholt said of his brother Chad’s death. “He was always trying to get better no matter what he was going through.”

For nearly two years Chase has been working to keep his brother’s memory alive through a website in his honor.

Today Chad Breinholt’s family finally has answers about what happened back in August of 2019 when an arrest led to his shooting death. They say what eats at them  most is what Sgt. Tyler Longman said just before shooting him.

“The mental distress he was in and to have those last words ‘you’re about to die my friend’ when he was clearly not among friends or people who cared or were concerned… that haunts me and will haunt me forever,” said Susan Neese, Breinholt’s mother.

Longman said the phrase as he and 2 other officers struggled to stop a handcuffed Chad from grabbing another officer’s gun.

“What sort of protocol allows that? How inhumane is that?” Neese said

Chad’s family feels that officers dropped the ball long before the shooting happened and the officers’ actions escalated the situation.

“We believe that where this went wrong was not in the last few seconds, it should’ve and could’ve been avoided hours before,” the family’s attorney Colin King said.

Chad’s family feels his death underscores systemic failure on behalf of law enforcement agencies and lawmakers when it comes to dealing with people experiencing a mental health crisis. They were distraught to learn that Chad repeatedly requested to be taken to Uni, or a mental health facility, which they feel was a clear and desperate cry for help.

“This is a systemic failure by West Valley police department because they did not train their officers to handle someone who is not just intoxicated but he was in a mental and emotional crisis,” King said.

Chad’s family questions why officers were legally justified in resorting to lethal force when he was already in handcuffs as he grabbed the officer’s handgun.

“For them to not be able to subdue him or handle that when they all are twice his size,” Chase Breinholt said. “They are supposed to protect us even if that means protecting us from ourselves.”

It’s why Chad’s family wants to see change in policing procedures and the laws that oversee officer’s actions.

“Sim Gill’s decision is understandable, he is basically handcuffed much like Chad was,” King said.

“We’re frustrated that there is no justice, no accountability for West Valley City,” Neese said, “I think that the change certainly needs to happen from the top with lawmakers.”

Chad’s family also expressed concerns that Sgt. Tyler Longman’s involvement in 3 shootings had no bearing on this case. They plan on filing a civil lawsuit next month.

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Family Calls District Attorney’s Ruling ‘Systemic Failure’