Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy said he stands by how his officers interacted and engaged the man shot in an officer-involved shooting on Interstate 15 in December.
Video footage of the Dec. 20 incident was released Wednesday and shows deputies and officers firing roughly 70 to 90 rounds at two locations before they were able to take Arturo Gallemore-Jimenez, 37, into custody.
Tracy also told the media that it has been determined that shots fired by officers struck a bystander in the arm and hit a window of a passing vehicle.
“I was pleased our men were able to make those decisions in I believe a correct manner and use and apply the appropriate level of force to keep that individual from entering the public,” Tracy said during a press conference.
Tracy said the initial shooting happened in a short amount of time and officers had to think through the situation and respond quickly.
“In those 5.5 or 6 seconds where the exchange of gunfire occurs, each of those deputies has to make their own decision about ‘What am I looking at? What have I seen? What am I justified legally to do in the prevention of this individual’s escape?’ and then act. Within that 6 seconds they have to determine all of that.”
Tracy said the investigation into the officer-involved shooting is still underway, but the initial interviews have been conducted by the Officer Involved Shooting Protocol team, which is why they are releasing the footage at this time.
The incident began around 6 p.m. Dec. 20 in Nephi when police were called about a gun being fired at a truck stop, according to the release. Once on scene, officers learned a man had shot the window of a pickup truck to get inside the vehicle because he had reportedly locked his keys inside.
Video shows that at 6:30 p.m., the Utah County Sheriff’s Office and several other police departments locate the suspect and attempt to make a traffic stop near the 400 South exit in Springville.
After being stopped, Gallemore-Jimenez complies at first by placing both hands outside of the vehicle.
However, he then pulls one hand back into the vehicle, takes out a weapon and fires three rounds at the officers and begins driving away.
Tracy said the five deputies and officers then fired about 50 shots back at the man’s vehicle in an attempt to stop the man from driving away. Several of those shots did hit the vehicle and puncture the tires.
It is during this exchange of gunfire that an individual who had pulled his car to the side of the road was hit in the arm. Tracy said that individual was more than 1,600 feet away from the site where officers were engaging with Gallemore-Jimenez and it was dark, which made it impossible to see that man.
“This is critical to see,” he said. “We are responsible for the injury of that citizen, but we are not negligent in what occurred and caused that.”
The video footage shows police chasing the suspect along northbound I-15 at about 30 miles per hour, which had been closed down at the time.
A deputy, who was a member of the SWAT team, in an unmarked police vehicle then drives past the suspect and stops on the University Parkway off-ramp.
As Gallemore-Jimenez attempts to take that interstate exit, the deputy engages him by firing 27 rounds at the vehicle, two of which strike the man in the arm and graze the back of his neck. At this location, he did not fire at the police.
“Does that mean we should have not engaged him at the second location with gunfire? Absolutely not,” Tracy said. “We are not going to let that individual who we have already seen commit an attempted murder get back into the public and be lost from our chase.”
The footage shows that after a bit of delay, Gallemore-Jimenez gets out of the vehicle and lays on the ground before he is taken into custody by officers.
Gallemore-Jimenez had multiple weapons in his vehicle and was wearing body armor when he was taken into custody.
Tracy said they have also been able to look at how deputies responded in this situation and advise them how to act in future situations.
“There are a couple of tactical errors that we will address. I think they expose themselves too much in that first shooting location,” he said.
Gallemore-Jimenez was also wanted for shooting a man in Colorado just a few days prior to the Dec. 20 incident, according to court documents.
The truck he was driving was also reportedly stolen from Kansas. Gallemore-Jimenez told police he had lent the truck to a man in Colorado who kept it too long, so he shot the man, according to court documents.
Gallemore-Jimenez has been charged with three counts of first-degree felony aggravated murder, one third-degree felony charge of failing to stop at command of police, one third-degree felony of possession of a firearm by a restricted person, one second-degree felony of theft, one class A misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, one class B misdemeanor of possession of a controlled substance and one class C misdemeanor of driving on revocation.