LOCAL NEWS

Officers found legally justified in Murray and Taylorsville police shootings

May 23, 2024, 12:33 PM | Updated: 5:23 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Police officers who shot and killed a man armed with a rifle, and officers who shot another man who attempted to run them over in a separate incident were legally justified in using deadly force.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced those conclusions involving two different police shootings on Thursday.

One shooting happened on Sept. 13, 2023, when Murray police pulled over Kelsey Raymond Robinson in the parking lot of Fashion Place Mall for a traffic violation. When officer Bryan Talbot ran the license plate and discovered it was listed as stolen, he called for a backup officer to respond to the scene.

But as the two officers attempted to take Robinson into custody, he threw his vehicle into reverse. One officer “made contact” with the vehicle but was able to avoid becoming pinned, according to Gill’s final report.

“I just remember seeing this car accelerating, like towards me. I mean, legit, the car’s rear windshield was like in my face. … I had to jump out of the way, to my left. So I jumped out of the way, and right behind me was Talbot’s push bumper on his car. So, I mean I was a half-second away from getting pinned just in between both cars,” Murray police officer Thomas Yates said in the report.

Talbot was “scooped” into the driver’s side door and carried a short distance before Robinson’s car crashed into an officer’s patrol car.

A man's profile and a man in a car

Kelsey Raymond Robinson is serving a prison sentence for ramming a patrol car in Murray on Sept. 13, 2023. On Thursday, the actions of an officer who shot and injured Robinson were found to be legally justified. (Murray police)

“As the impact occurred, officer Talbot’s body slammed into the inside door frame, his head also appearing to hit the vehicle, and the open driver’s door slammed onto him. Mr. Robinson then quickly turned the steering wheel to the right, and began accelerating forward. As he did so, officer Talbot maneuvered out from the vehicle and drew his firearm,” according to the report.

Talbot fired four times into the vehicle. Robinson crashed into another parked vehicle, pushing it 8 feet, before continuing out of the parking lot, the report states.

Talbot suffered a concussion and minor injuries to his arm and leg. He was treated at a local hospital.

Robinson, 30, of Indianapolis, Indiana, was arrested following a high-speed chase in Colorado. He was treated at a hospital for two gunshot wounds to his arm, the district attorney’s report states.

Robinson was later charged in 3rd District Court with two counts of assault on an officer resulting in injury, a second-degree felony, and other charges. In February, Robinson pleaded guilty to assault on a police officer, a second-degree felony, and was sentenced in April to a term of one to 15 years in the Utah State Prison.

Taylorsville shooting

In the second case in which Gill found an officer’s use of deadly force to be legally justified, police responded late at night on Oct. 4, 2023, to 3852 W. Ridgecrest Drive on a report of an armed domestic violence incident. Joseph Nicholas Potts, 34, was reported to be intoxicated, suicidal, and armed, the report states.

Just before officers arrived at the scene, his wife and 3-month-old infant were able to flee the home to a neighbor’s house unharmed.

Potts began firing shots with a rifle inside of the house, according to police. Taylorsville police, who originally responded to the call, requested help from the West Valley police SWAT team.

West Valley police detective Tyler Thompson, a member of the SWAT team, was positioned as a sniper on a neighboring rooftop, according to Gill’s report.

Early in the morning on Oct. 5, about two hours after the initial 911 call, Potts walked out of his residence “wearing a ballistic plate carrier on his torso and armed with a rifle. Mr. Potts then crouched down toward the ground on the west side of the driveway, between a parked vehicle and a fence on the west property line, and as later described by detective Thompson, appeared to drop an IR ChemLight (a military-grade infrared light stick) and drop something on the ground next to it. Mr. Potts then laid in a prone position with his head and rifle pointed directly south — in the direction of the three officers who were positioned on the roof across the street,” the report says.

“As he did so, detective Thompson whispered, ‘That’s an IR ChemLight,’ ‘And mags,’ and then, ‘He’s aiming at us,'” according to the report, which also noted that officers watching Potts from the rooftop feared he “may have access to IR night vision.”

Thompson fired four times from about 38 yards away, striking and killing Potts.

Gill said he met with Potts’ widow prior to announcing his decision on Thursday. He says that she wanted to convey that the actions of her husband that night were not typical of who he was. Gill says Potts was a veteran who was suffering from post-traumatic stress issues. Gill again noted that May is Mental Health Awareness month. And as he has in the past, he again emphasized the need for getting veterans the help and proper treatment they need.

Gill is holding a press conference Thursday to show body camera videos and discuss how he reached his conclusions about the two police shootings.

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Officers found legally justified in Murray and Taylorsville police shootings