A Utah school resource officer fired his weapon into a car full of teenagers in West Valley City after the teen driver accelerated his vehicle into the officer.
The resource officer of a West Valley City high school was patrolling the surrounding neighborhood when he spotted a car full of boys who looked to be high school age. As he approached the car, possibly to check to see if the boys were ditching class, the officer could smell marijuana coming from the vehicle. He continued to advance toward the vehicle when the car suddenly lurched forward and hit the officer, sending him onto the hood of the vehicle. It was at that point the school resource officer chose to fire his weapon into the car full of teens, critically injuring the young driver.
Split second decisions
While the teenage driver fights for his life in the hospital, the passengers who have been identified as two students and a (possibly young) “adult” are being located and questioned in the incident. As the investigation continues, some Utah residents are questioning whether or not the officer’s use of potential deadly force was justified. Although a vehicle can be considered a deadly weapon when used to hurt someone- is that what happened? Was the teen trying to run the officer over with his vehicle or did he become startled and react by pressing the accelerator? Did the officer truly fear for his life when the car lunged forward or did he become startled and react by reaching for his firearm? Another concern from residents is whether or not the situation was dire enough for the officer, who is trained to protect students, to put the vehicle’s passengers in danger.
Teen behavior around law enforcement
Whether it is determined that the officer’s actions were justified or that his actions were extreme for the circumstances, there is still a teen who is left with life threatening injuries. As tension continues to grow between the general public and law enforcement, teens should be taught to always refrain from drastic or aggressive actions towards police for the sake of their own safety. If disagreements or concerns arise during police questioning or an arrest, it is best for teens to handle themselves in a calm manner and request the accompaniment of an attorney.