LOCAL NEWS

Family of man who was shot & killed by West Valley police files lawsuit

Aug 23, 2021, 10:40 AM | Updated: 10:48 am

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — The family of a 31-year-old man who was shot and killed by West Valley City police while handcuffed has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the department and officers involved, saying they want change.

Sunday marked two years since Breinholt was shot and killed by officers while in custody.

Police took Breinholt 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.

Last month, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office ruled the shooting justified. But members of Breinholt’s family said the civil rights action is the first step toward police reform and preventing another tragedy.

“’You’re about to die my friend’ … I mean to me, (it’s) all I think about,” said Breinholt’s mother, Susan Neese.

Neese said the phrase will forever haunt her son’s memory.

“Chad was shot in the head with his hands cuffed behind his back is an execution-style killing,” Neese said.

On Friday, Neese said their family attorney filed a civil rights action against the West Valley City Police Department, the city and at least five officers involved in his arrest and subsequent shooting death.

“We have no choice but to file these civil suits to try to make these changes happen,” Neese said.

The lawsuit alleges officers mistreated Breinholt for hours before the struggle inside the police department’s basement DUI processing room ended in a shooting.

Furthermore, the lawsuit claims Breinholt’s girlfriend told 911 operators and responding officers she was concerned about his mental health saying “it seems like he just wants to commit suicide” and had taken “nine pills of Klonopin.”

But instead of getting him medical help by transporting him to a medical or mental health unit, the lawsuit alleges the officers “conducted a field breathalyzer and arrested Chad.”

“For over two hours,” the lawsuit states, “Chad was trapped in and near the intoxilyzer room with his hands cuffed behind his back” despite obvious signs of being intoxicated and suffering serious mental health issues and conditions, “demonstrated in part by delayed and inappropriate reactions and uncontrollable sobbing.”

The lawsuit claims instead of helping, the officers “antagonized, threatened, harassed and humiliated Chad.”

At one point the lawsuit claims, Breinholt was left crying and pleading for help on the concrete floor for 11 minutes.

Another officer, Detective Lyons, allegedly became concerned about Breinholt’s behavior and went out to his patrol car to pull up more information on the original call. The detective allegedly wrote, “I went out to my police vehicle and pulled up the details of the call to see if there was something more that had occurred as again the level of how he was crying was far more than any other arrested party I have observed in my 20-year career as a law enforcement officer and his behavior seemed off to me and not normal.”


MORE: Read the lawsuit in its entirety here.


Yet, despite these warning signs, the lawsuit alleges officers escalated a situation that could have been prevented.

“The fact that they can just get away with that, there needs to be some reform — there needs to be some change,” said Chase Breinholt, Chad’s brother.

The lawsuit doesn’t specify a monetary amount.

A spokesperson for the West Valley City Police Department told KSL they haven’t been served yet and a response could be pending.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Attendees at the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Conference Center....
Michael Houck & Ladd Egan

Day One of 192nd Semi-annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Tens of thousands gathered in downtown Salt Lake City Saturday for the 192nd Semi-annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
23 hours ago
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints volunteers help clean up and repair the aftermath of Hurricane Ia...
Mike Anderson

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members help clean up the aftermath of Hurricane Ian

"As horrible as natural disasters are, you see the best of humanity," Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members gather in Florida to help clean up the mess Hurricane Ian left behind.
23 hours ago
Denali Stubbs, preparing his bike for the upcoming race....
Alex Cabrero

Hildale high school bike team participates in regional race

"I just want to do the same for these kids:” a Hillside parent hopes to encourage teens in his community to dream bigger by getting involved in sports.
23 hours ago
Authorities responding to the fatal rollover crash. (UDOT)...
Michael Houck

Two dead after pickup truck crashes into ravine near I-215

Authorities are investigating a rollover crash that killed two of its occupants on I-215 near 1000 South Saturday afternoon. 
23 hours ago
President Russell M. Nelson speaks during the Saturday morning session of the 192nd Semiannual Gene...
Josh Ellis

President Nelson addresses using chair during conference talk

President Russell M. Nelson took to social media after Latter-day Saints noticed he used a chair to deliver his remarks during the Saturday morning session of the 192nd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
23 hours ago
President Russell M. Nelson, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaks during the ...
Tad Walch, Deseret News

‘Any kind of abuse … is an abomination,’ President Nelson says at Saturday morning session

President Russell M. Nelson denounced abuse as a grievous sin and an abomination at the close of the Saturday morning session of the 192nd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
Family of man who was shot & killed by West Valley police files lawsuit