A Utah police officer who shot a screwdriver-wielding suspect in the leg has been ruled “not legally justified” in doing so, but will not face charges because the local prosecutor’s office said it would be unable to “prove the requisite criminal intent.” Watch the body camera footage above to get the officer’s view of the situation.
According to The Spectrum, it all began on the morning of June 28 when Ivonne Casimiro, 29, and two other suspects were spotted breaking into vehicles at a truck stop in Parowan. Parowan police Sgt. Mike Berg arrived at around 11:30 a.m. and encountered Casimiro and Jose Flores, 34, in the area.
Berg radioed for backup and told dispatch that Casimiro was armed with a screwdriver. A police report states he also said Casimiro had taken a “swipe” at him twice when he tried to approach and told her to take her hands out of her jacket.
Soon after, Cpl. Jeremy Dunn of the Enoch City Police Department arrived. Dunn’s body camera shows him getting out of his cruiser, running toward the scene and instructing Casimiro to drop the screwdriver. Casimiro defiantly refuses to do so. Instead, she starts to walk away.
“You’re not free to leave,” Dunn says as he aims his gun at her.
“Go ahead and blow,” Casimiro states when she sees the gun.
“You come at me with that knife, I guarantee I’ll smoke ya,” Dunn replied.
Dunn repeatedly tells her to drop the screwdriver.
“You want this to happen? I’d get back if I were you,” Dunn says.
“I’m not dropping s**t,” Casimiro replies.
As Casimiro continues behaving belligerently, Dunn says to Berg, “Do you want me to take her out like last time?” NBC News says Dunn was referring to a similar 2012 officer-involved shooting involving him and Berg.
Dunn then pulls out a taser and discharges it twice.
“Did it work? I don’t think so,” Casimiro says.
“Didn’t work, did it?” Dunn replies. “OK, that’s all I got for Taser.”
Seconds later, Dunn sighs and discharges his duty weapon three times. Casimiro falls to the ground, with two rounds in the leg.
Dunn applied a tourniquet to Casimiro’s leg and called for EMS, the Spectrum reported. Casimiro was also transported to an area hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries to her leg. She’s been charged with assault against a peace officer; two counts of vehicle burglary; possession of a stolen vehicle; and interference with an arresting officer.
Flores faces a charge of possession of a stolen vehicle; two counts of vehicle burglary; theft; and possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia. A third suspect, Michael Salvador Torres, 24, fled the scene before officers arrived. However, police arrested him later that day. He is also facing charges of vehicle burglary and possession of a stolen vehicle.
Not Legally Justified
After reviewing the available evidence, Iron County Attorney Scott F. Garrett said Dunn wasn’t legally justified in shooting Casimiro.
“While the suspect was armed with a screwdriver and had been non-compliant by failing to follow officer’s commands, including multiple commands to drop the screwdriver, it cannot be objectively stated that the officers or anyone else were in danger of death or serious bodily injury at the exact moment that lethal force was used,” Garrett wrote in a letter to the Enoch Police Department. “From the video and Sergeant Berg’s testimony, it appears that the situation was manageable at the time Corporal Dunn arrived and it would have seemed reasonable for officers to continue de-escalation tactics until the situation could be more fully contained. Corporal Dunn was only on scene for three minutes before firing shots.”
Even so, Dunn won’t face charges because Garrett says his office won’t be able to prove criminal intent.
A report issued by the Enoch City Use of Force Review Board cleared Dunn in the shooting, stating that “reasonable force was used” by Dunn.
“After resisting Sergeant Berg’s attempt to detain her, and being subjected to two ineffective Taser deployments, and after the female raised the screwdriver in her right hand across her body appearing to load for an attempt to strike, taking a step forward with her left leg while her arm was cocked, Corporal Dunn chose to incapacitate the female suspect using lethal force in a non-lethal manner,” the board’s report states.
Dunn remains on administrative leave as of this writing.