SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Salt Lake County prosecutors ruled Thursday that an officer was justified when he shot and killed a handcuffed man inside a police station nearly two years ago.
Sgt. Tyler Longman will not face any charges related to the fatal shooting of Michael Breinholt, 31, on Aug. 23, 2019, District Attorney Sim Gill told reporters.
Breinholt was in the West Valley City police station following an intoxication-related arrest with his hands cuffed behind his back. Body camera footage shows him wrestling with two officers and one of them yelling that Breinholt was grabbing his gun. The footage shows the gun remained in the holster.
Longman ran into the room during the fight and grabbed Breinholt's head while yelling, “You're about to die, my friend" and fired his weapon, according to the video.
Gill said he believed Breinholt's death could have been avoided and that he found Longman's statement “reprehensible and unnecessary." But he said his decision had to focus solely on whether his actions were legally justified.
"If we want different outcomes, which is not unreasonable for us to ask, then we need to change the law," he said.
Breinholt's family told The Salt Lake Tribune that lethal force wasn’t necessary, and that they plan to file a lawsuit.
“He took the time to think about that, to say those words,” said Breinholt’s mother, Susan Neese. “And then aim and shoot. And kill Chad.”
Longman was put on administrative leave after the shooting, but he returned to work less than two months later. This is Longman’s third police shooting. He shot and killed a man in 2007 and another in 2008 and was found legally justified in both cases.