FARMINGTON – In their determination that deadly force was not justified in a Nov. 25 shooting in South Weber, Davis County prosecutors don’t want to send a message to officers that they can’t use force when necessary.
On the other hand, prosecutors want the public to have confidence such cases will not be “rubber-stamped” in favor of law enforcement, Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said Wednesday morning.
“We don’t want the public to think law enforcement has carte blanche,” he said.
Rawlngs’ office determined that the use of deadly force against Kristine Nicole Biggs by Morgan County Sheriff’s Sgt. Daniel Scott Peay, “does not squarely fit with the letter, scope and intent of Utah code,” according to a letter sent to Morgan County Sheriff Blaine Breshears and shared with the media on Tuesday.
Breshears was not available for comment Wednesday.
Peay shot Biggs in the eye following a chase that began in Morgan County and ended in South Weber, where she turned the truck she was driving around and headed toward officers, sideswiping one car and repeatedly ramming another. Peay shot Biggs through the windshield and the bullet hit her in the left eye.
Investigators found that Peay had repeatedly ordered Biggs to turn off her engine and get out of her vehicle, but she backed up and rammed the police cruiser again.
Dash cam video of the incident shows Biggs was driving with a large dog, who was uninjured. She spoke with officers after being shot, asking about the dog.
After the Davis County Attorney’s office and members of a Protocol Investigation Team reviewed the facts of the case, including videos and audio, “We felt we couldn’t clearly and credibly come out and say this was justified,” Rawlings said.
But investigators also found other officers at the scene, including those from both Davis and Morgan counties, believed it was justified because of concerns she would again escape,” Rawlings said.
Peay believed another officer’s life was in danger and shot to protect that officer.
However, the investigation revealed that Biggs had turned away from the officer just before Peay shot.
“It is clear that Sgt. Peay’s subjective hypothetical concerns, fears and analysis of the situation ... drove his decision to end the situation with the use of deadly force,” Rawlings letter to Breshears says. “In his mind, he was protecting life from an aggressor in a vehicle who was not going to stop.”
Rawlings believes a jury would not convict Peay of a crime when presented with all the evidence.
Under Utah law, an officer cannot be charged with using deadly force improperly.