Police officer seeks changes in the Utah Board of Pardons

Dec 11, 2021, 3:22 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — A patrol sergeant who survived an attack of gunfire is hoping for judicial reform after his attacker received a parole release from prison.  

Zane Openshaw served eight years after being convicted of attempted murder and admitting he wanted to kill a cop in 2012. He was sentenced five years to life in prison.

“I was hoping he’d kill me, yes. I was too cowardly to shoot myself. Even more so, I wanted somebody else to do it for me,” Zane Openshaw, 26, told Robert Yeates, vice chairman of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole, in a recorded copy of his parole hearing in 2016.

Openshaw, who has a criminal history full of weapons charges and arson, pulled out a handgun in 2012 and fired eight shots into the patrol car that Sgt. Jared Jensen was sitting in.

“He produced a handgun and proceeded to empty that gun — eight rounds into the driver’s side of my patrol vehicle,” Jensen said. “I survived, but it’s been emotionally damaging.”

Jensen was a patrol officer in Sunset at the time of the shooting. Now, he is a sergeant with the Kaysville Police Department.

“Personally, I have put handcuffs on the same violent offender time and time and time again,” Jensen said. “Violent offenders have a higher propensity to commit violent crime — it’s a fact. So, why are we not addressing it as a fact and trying to overcome it?”

Jensen sent a letter to Gov. Spencer Cox Friday, asking to join forces with lawmakers on taking a closer look at violent crime offenders.

“Right now, our state isn’t doing enough, and I want to see change,” Jensen said.

Judicial officials told Jensen the reason Openshaw will be released on parole on Tuesday, Dec. 14, is because the officer wasn’t injured during the attempted killing.

“I am here to argue that his intent and his actions that day are what should be under the microscope. I want a system where we’re concerned about making victims whole again, where we are actively dedicated to the overall safety of our community, instead of offering bargains, pleas and deals to those committing violent crime,” Jensen said.

Violent crime in Utah increased 21% in 2020.

Also on the rise are bail reform and probation, meaning violent, convicted felons are being released more often.

According to the Utah U.S. Marshal’s office, currently one third of all violent Utah inmates are repeat offenders. 

“Once someone has crossed that threshold into being okay to attempt to take a human life, what are they not capable of? I want safer communities, and that means holding violent fugitives accountable,” Jensen said.

KSL-TV reached out to The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole Officials for a statement about Openshaw’s upcoming prison release. They did not return our phone calls.

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Police officer seeks changes in the Utah Board of Pardons