LEGAL

Utah Man pleads guilty to pepper spraying Black Lives Matter protesters

Nov 26, 2022, 4:29 PM
West Valley police officers respond as a protest at the West Valley City Police Department is disru...
West Valley police officers respond as a protest at the West Valley City Police Department is disrupted by counterprotesters on Sept. 16, 2020. A man pled guilty on Tuesday to hitting Black Lives Matter protesters with pepper spray at the demonstration. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to pepper spraying two at Black Lives Matter protesters in West Valley City in 2020.

Randall Craig Schroerlucke, 46, pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with serious injury, class A misdemeanors, and one count of assault, a class B misdemeanor. He admitted to hitting two individuals with pepper spray and harming a third person when pepper spray blew toward them.

As part of a plea deal, other counts were dismissed including threatening to use a dangerous weapon during a fight and one count of assault, class A misdemeanors; one count of assault, a class B misdemeanor; and disorderly conduct, a class C misdemeanor.

On Sept. 16, 2020, about 60 protesters and counterprotesters gathered outside the police department. Members of Black Lives Matter were protesting the fatal shooting of Damien Evans, 38, who was shot and killed as he fled from members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Apprehension Team in Salt Lake City.

At one point during the protest, Schroerlucke got into a confrontation with some of the Black Lives Matter protesters.

Judge Vernice Trease, who accepted the plea on Tuesday, ruled in April 2022 that Shoroerlucke was not acting in self-defense because he was armed while others at the protest were not. She cited a comment he made at the protest that was recorded and played back at the hearing, referring to the stun gun he said “let’s have fun with this, I haven’t tried it yet.” Trease said this does not sound like someone who is afraid.

Schroerlucke is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 15, 2023. The plea deal says Schroerlucke plans to ask for two years of probation as the sentence, and West Valley City plans to seek 15 days in jail and 50 hours of community service, in addition to two years of probation.

In his guilty plea statement, Schroerlucke also said he plans to ask the judge to return a gun he voluntarily surrendered after probation is completed, and to allow him to keep two guns in a safe in the home during probation which he would only be allowed to remove from the safe if there is a credible threat to his life or his mother’s life while they are at home.

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Utah Man pleads guilty to pepper spraying Black Lives Matter protesters