“You come at me with that knife, I guarantee I’ll smoke ya.”
Those are the words spoken by a Utah police officer moments before he shot a woman holding a screwdriver -- a shooting that Iron County prosecutors found to be unjustified, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Despite the findings, Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett has declined to file charges against Enoch police Cpl. Jeremy Dunn, stating in a letter released Monday that he didn’t believe prosecutors would be able to prove criminal intent, according to the Tribune.
An Enoch review board also found that Dunn acted within department policy on June 28 when he shot Ivonne Casimiro, 29, of Las Vegas, twice in the knee. According to the Tribune, he remains on the force but is on leave.
Dunn was one of multiple officers who responded the day of the shooting to a call of people breaking into cars at a TA Travel Center in Parowan, the newspaper reported. The officer’s body camera captured the entire interaction between him and Casimiro.
The footage shows Dunn had his gun drawn as he approached the scene, where another officer, identified by the Tribune as Parowan police Sgt. Mike Berg, is standing with Casimiro and a man later identified as Jose Martin Flores. A third burglary suspect, identified after the fact as Michael Salvador Torres, was inside the truck stop when Dunn arrived, according to witnesses seen in the video.
Berg tells Dunn that Casimiro is refusing to drop the screwdriver in her hand. At some point before Dunn arrived, Casimiro allegedly swiped at Berg twice with the screwdriver, the Tribune reported.
In the video, Berg is heard telling Dunn that Casimiro and Flores were possibly 10-96, which the newspaper reported is code for people believed to have mental health issues.
Dunn begins his interaction with Casimiro by telling her it would be a good idea to put the screwdriver down.
“Why? What am I doing, though?” Casimiro responds.
Dunn tells Casimiro that he’ll talk to her, but that he doesn’t want the man next to her to get hurt. He and Berg try to get the man to back away from Casimiro.
“No, he’s not going nowhere,” Casimiro argues.
After some more back and forth, Casimiro starts to walk away.
“You’re not free to leave,” Dunn tells her.
She turns back toward the officer.
“Go ahead and blow,” Casimiro says, walking toward Dunn.
That’s when the officer warns her that he’ll “smoke” her if she comes at him.
“I guarantee it,” he says.
Watch the entire recording of the June 28 shooting, which was released to media outlets, below. Warning: The language and images may be too graphic for some readers.
Casimiro continues arguing with the officers and tells them repeatedly to shoot.
“Go ‘head, go ‘head, go ‘head. I want to see,” she says.
At one point, she tells the officers she “can’t never, ever die.” She points to Flores and says he will never die, either.
She continues to goad the officers to shoot.
“Just drop the screwdriver,” Berg tells her.
“I’m not dropping (expletive),” Casimiro responds. “Blow if you want, (N-word). What the (expletive)?”
“I’m trying to give you a chance,” Dunn tells her. He also asks Flores to step away from Casimiro, saying he doesn’t want him to get in the way.
“I can take her out like last time,” Dunn says to Berg. “You want me to take her out like last time?”
The Tribune reported that Dunn and Berg were both involved in a very similar case in 2012, when they encountered a man, George Osborn Lafayette, who was fighting with his mother. When Lafayette, who had a knife, moved toward the officers “in a threatening manner,” Dunn shot him in the leg.
That shooting was found to be justified, the newspaper said.
“You want me to take you out like last time, too?” Casimiro asks Dunn in the body camera footage, before starting to walk away again.
Berg appears to tell Dunn, “Taser.”
Dunn deploys his Taser, but the electrodes do not go through Casimiro’s hooded jacket.
“Did it work? Did it work? Did it work, (N-word)?” Casimiro says, pulling the prongs and wires off her clothes.
“It didn’t work, did it?” Dunn agrees.
“I don’t think so,” Casimiro says.
“OK, that’s all I’ve got for Taser,” Dunn responds. His handgun comes back up into the frame as Berg once again orders Casimiro to drop her screwdriver.
“What’s up?” Casimiro says to Dunn, appearing to take a step toward him.
Dunn fires three shots and Casimiro falls to the ground, grabbing her leg. The screwdriver falls from her hands.
The Tribune reported that two of the bullets hit her in the knee, causing non-life-threatening injuries.
Dunn and his fellow officer begin screaming for both Casimiro and Flores to get down on the ground.
“Lay back. Get back. Get back,” Dunn shouts, ordering Casimiro, who appears to be wincing in pain, away from where the screwdriver fell.
After ordering her onto her stomach, he handcuffs her hands behind her back.
Observing that Casimiro was hit in the leg, Dunn starts performing first aid by applying a tourniquet to stem the bleeding. She moans and cries out in pain several times.
Dunn talks back and forth with her to determine if the tourniquet is tight enough. As she continues to cry out in pain, he tries to determine what to do next.
“What do you want? Tell me what I can do to help you,” Dunn tells the woman.
She asks him to straighten out her leg, which appears to be broken from the shooting. As she begs him to loosen the tourniquet, he adjusts it.
“Ma’am, I wish you had just dropped the screwdriver,” Dunn says.
She continues to cry out in pain as Dunn searches her pockets, from which he pulls a second screwdriver, a pack of gum and other items. Casimiro begs him to take the tourniquet off because it is causing pain.
Dunn tells her he can’t remove it because it was keeping her from bleeding too much.
“Pain, you can make it through,” Dunn says. “If you don’t have enough blood, that’s a problem.”
Casimiro’s injuries were not life-threatening. After being treated for her wounds, she was booked into the Iron County Jail on charges of second-degree assault of a police officer and receiving a stolen vehicle.
Flores, 34, and Torres, 24, both of Las Vegas, were also charged in the case. According to KSL in Salt Lake City, both men are charged with felony receiving a stolen vehicle and two counts of misdemeanor burglary of a vehicle.
Torres also faces misdemeanor charges of theft, drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia, the news station reported.
The Tribune reported that Garrett wrote in his letter to Enoch police officials that Dunn went too far when he shot Casimiro.
“It cannot be objectively stated that the officers or anyone else were in danger of death or serious bodily injury,” the prosecutor wrote.
Garrett wrote that Dunn said after the fact that he had “mentally purchased” the idea that he would have to shoot Casimiro when he arrived at the scene, because he had been informed that she was combative and had swung her weapon at Berg.
At the moment of the shooting, however, Casimiro posed no threat, the letter obtained by the Tribune said.
“Casimiro was not fleeing, had not made any verbal threats towards officers and there was sufficient distance between Casimiro and any bystander to remove any imminent threat of harm,” Garrett wrote. “It appears that the situation was manageable at the time Cpl. Dunn arrived and it would have seemed reasonable for officers to continue de-escalation tactics until the situation could be more fully contained.”
“Cpl. Dunn was only on scene for three minutes before firing shots.”
Garrett also wrote that, even after Casimiro had swiped at him with the screwdriver, Berg had de-escalated the situation and “believed he was in good shape.”
The Enoch review board, made up of the city’s mayor, city manager, a city councilman, the police chief and a police officer, went in the opposite direction, finding that Dunn, a seven-year police veteran, was “acutely aware of the potential for injury,” the Tribune reported. They wrote that Casimiro’s arm was cocked for “an attempt to strike” Dunn, who they found observed an immediate and severe threat to those involved.
City manager Rob Dotson said the board took Dunn’s perspective in the situation into account.
“What he was thinking, what he was dealing with, his understanding of the situation,” Dotson told the Tribune. “He made that decision, and we believe he followed our policy to do so.”
The committee did take issue with some of Dunn’s actions, the Tribune reported. When he shot Casimiro in the leg, he went against police training, which teaches officers to shoot for a person’s torso to stop the individual and reduce the chance of stray bullets hitting bystanders.
They cleared him of wrongdoing in choosing to aim at Casimiro’s legs, writing that his “statement that he felt the need to disable her without killing her is acceptable” to board members, the Tribune reported.
The board did ding Dunn for violating city policy by drawing both his stun gun and his handgun at the same time. Both weapons are visible in the video, one in each hand.
Dunn will receive additional training on stun gun usage, the newspaper reported.
That is something we’ll address in the future,” Dotson told the Tribune. “I’m going to guess other departments will do the same thing (when) they see this video.”
Dunn and his fellow Enoch officers -- all four of them -- were profiled in May by ABC 4 in Salt Lake City. Dunn told the news station that he didn’t know where the small city was when he first applied to become an officer, but that he’d grown to love it.
“I wouldn’t change a thing. Absolutely love it here. We have a great agency. We have a great chief,” Dunn said in the profile. “When you really enjoy what you do and where you are – it’s hard to want to change. Because if you go somewhere else and you’re not happy anymore.... And is that money worth it?”
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