Videos shows chaotic scenes leading to Salt Lake police shooting

Feb 1, 2023, 6:16 PM | Updated: Mar 28, 2024, 5:51 pm

Body camera footage from Salt Lake police officers shows officers approaching a car moments before ...

Body camera footage from Salt Lake police officers shows officers approaching a car moments before nearby officers at another shot a man who broke into a house in Salt Lake City on Jan. 13, 2022. (Photo: Salt Lake police)

(Photo: Salt Lake police)

SALT LAKE CITY — Body camera videos released Wednesday show chaotic scenes at several locations during a confrontation between Salt Lake police officers and two wanted fugitives that ended in one of the men being shot and killed by police.

On Jan. 13, the Salt Lake City Police Department’s gang unit was investigating two men who both had felony warrants for their arrests. Police found a vehicle believed to be connected to the men in an alley near 1300 W. Arapahoe Ave. (660 South) just before 3 a.m.

Wednesday, the department released a dozen body camera videos from officers who responded to different parts of the investigation.

The videos start with officers trying to get the men out of the car. Several officers have their guns drawn and are using a loudspeaker to order them to exit with their hands up.

“Vehicle is reversing,” an officer is heard updating dispatchers.

12 Salt Lake City Police Department officers.

UPDATE: Suspect dead after pursuit, shooting, police say

The driver, Penisimani Halai, 41, then puts the car in reverse in the video, hitting a parked car, and driving through a fence and yard in front of him to get away.

“He’s trying to break through,” the officer updates dispatchers. “He’s driving through the fence.”

As the vehicle drove out of the alley, a short chase with police ensued.

“During the pursuit, Halai hit two SLCPD vehicles, causing minor damage to both. Body worn camera video shows Halai driving recklessly, including on the sidewalk, nearly hitting an officer as the officer exited his marked patrol car,” Salt Lake police said in a prepared statement.

After police spiked the car’s tires, Halai crashed into a parked car near 500 N. Star Crest Drive (1840 West). Halai got out and ran while the passenger remained in the vehicle. Police have not released the passenger’s name.

At that point, numerous officers descended on the area for two crime scenes about a block apart. In the first scene, officers with guns drawn ordered the passenger — who is now lying down in the back seat — out of the car.

“Where is he?” an officer who arrives on scene is heard asking on body camera video.

“He’s in the back seat,” another officer replies.

“Keep your hands up,” officers order the man. The man soon crawls out of the car without further incident.

Meanwhile, officers with guns drawn surrounded Halai who is standing in front of a nearby house. They yell multiple times, “Show us your hands” and “Get on the ground.”

But Halai can be heard yelling obscenities at the officers as he ignores their commands. And at one point, an officer is heard saying, “He has something in his hands.”

A shot is then heard in the video, followed by a pause, and another shot from another officer. A third officer deploys his Taser but it appears to be ineffective.

“He’s trying to get into the house,” an officer is heard yelling. Moments later, Halai breaks through a glass basement window. Police say he had no connection to the home that he broke into.

Immediately, several officers go to the window as several others go to the front door and kick it in to make entry. Moments later, three more shots are heard in succession. The body camera videos all end as the three shots are fired. According to police, Halai appeared to be holding an object as officers confronted him through the broken window.

Police say two other people were in the room that Halai entered.

About 3:10 a.m., police said they had Halai in custody.

“As officers took Halai into custody, they found and secured a weapon in Halai’s possession,” police said.

He was taken to a local hospital in critical condition and died on Jan. 21. According to police, his autopsy results were pending as of Wednesday.

Four officers have been placed on standard administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the shooting which will be conducted by an outside agency. The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office will then decide whether the shooting was legally justified.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown released a statement Wednesday saying in part that, “This incident highlights the dangers and unpredictability officers can face as they carry out their duties. Based on the information I’ve reviewed, our officers performed quickly and professionally. I cannot imagine being woken up in the middle of the night by a stranger with a weapon inside my home.”

Halai was convicted of two counts of being a restricted person in possession of a weapon in 2020. He was placed on probation for three years, which he violated several times, according to court records, with the latest being in October when a warrant was issued for his arrest. The warrant was still outstanding when police confronted him.


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Videos shows chaotic scenes leading to Salt Lake police shooting