PUBLIC RELATIONS UNIT
February 1, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact Information: PolicePRUnit@slcgov.com
Body Worn Camera Footage Released from Officer Involved Critical Incident
SALT LAKE CITY — Today, in compliance with Salt Lake City ordinance 2.10.200, the Salt Lake City Police Department released body worn camera footage of the officer-involved-critical incident (OICI) from January 13, 2023 near 500 North Star Crest Drive in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Statements in this release are based on a preliminary review of limited information available at the time of this writing. A thorough investigation is being conducted by an outside agency, pursuant to the OICI protocol required by state law. Additionally, the SLCPD Internal Affairs Unit will conduct a separate investigation.
The videos released today captured the OICI, as defined by city ordinance, from the body-worn cameras of 12 SLCPD officers.
STATEMENT FROM CHIEF MIKE BROWN:
“Technology and our training are helping to keep our officers and community safe. However, this incident highlights the dangers and unpredictability officers can face as they carry out their duties. Based on the information I’ve reviewed, our officers performed quickly and professionally. I cannot imagine being woken up in the middle of the night by a stranger with a weapon inside my home. That exact situation played out here and I believe, based on the facts I know, our officers relied on their training to protect our community and each other.”
LINK TO VIDEOS:
At approximately 2:34 a.m. on Friday January 13, 2023, the Salt Lake City Police Department’s Gang Unit was investigating two wanted fugitives, both of whom had felony warrants. Officers found a car as part of that investigation in an alleyway near 1300 West Arapahoe Avenue.
The SLCPD Gang Unit requested additional SLCPD patrol officers to help with a traffic stop.
When officers initiated the traffic stop, at approximately 2:55 a.m., the driver and passenger refused to comply.
Officers later identified the driver as 41-year-old Penisimani Halai.
The name of the passenger is not being released.
While in the alleyway, officers gave repeated orders to everyone in the car to exit. Neither Halai nor the passenger obeyed. Body worn camera video recorded sounds of Halai reversing and hitting a parked car. As Halai drove through the alleyway, he crashed into a fence and drove through a yard onto 1300 West, which led to the pursuit. Officers requested air support from the Utah Department of Public Safety.
During the pursuit, officers used a tire deflation device on the front wheels of the vehicle. Despite this, Halai continued driving. During the pursuit, Halai hit two SLCPD vehicles, causing minor damage to both. Body worn camera video shows Halai driving recklessly, including on the sidewalk, nearly hitting an officer as the officer exited his marked patrol car (See Photo #1).
At approximately 3:08 a.m., Halai crashed head-on into an empty, parked truck near 500 North Star Crest Drive (See Photo #2).
Halai got out and ran south towards a house. At this time, there is no information to suggest Halai had a reason or right to attempt entering the home. Officers ordered him to stop and surrender. While giving commands, body worn camera captured Halai reaching for the home’s door handle. There also appears to be an object in Halai’s waistband, according to body worn camera video (See Photo #3 and Photo #4).
Additionally, body worn camera shows Halai reaching down towards the ground and officers later saying Halai has something in his hands (See Photo #5).
While the primary team of officers worked to stop Halai, other officers secured the area and safely detained the passenger, found in the back seat of the crashed car.
An officer deployed a taser, which did not immobilize Halai. Two other officers shot. Both shots happened outside. Prior to the shooting, body worn camera captured one of the officer’s referencing Halai in possession of a weapon.
Halai entered the home through a ground-level window (See Photo #6).
SLCPD officers ran after Halai and continued to give him commands from the window while outside. Body worn camera video shows Halai, while inside the house, appearing to hold an object (See Photo #7).
A third SLCPD officer fired additional rounds prior to fully entering the home.
Several officers entered the home through the window, front door, and garage. Officers found Halai inside the home’s living quarters and encountered him and two people living in the home in the same room.
As officers took Halai into custody, they found and secured a weapon in Halai’s possession.
At approximately 3:10 a.m. officers radioed that they had arrested Halai. Officers rendered first aid and requested paramedics.
At this time, there is no reason to believe Halai knew the occupants of the house he entered.
Paramedics from the Salt Lake City Fire Department and Gold Cross Ambulance took Halai to the hospital in critical condition.
Halai died on Saturday January 21, 2023. Autopsy results are pending with the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner.
Pursuant to SLC ordinance, the body worn camera footage is being stopped in this release immediately after the officer-involved-critical-incident due to private images depicted in the video, including images inside a private residence.
SLCPD activated the officer-involved-critical-incident protocol. The lead investigative agency is Protocol Team Number Four. An administrative investigation will also be conducted by the SLCPD Internal Affairs Unit.
At this time and consistent with department practice, four police officers are on paid administrative leave pending further review.
No further information is available for release. SLCPD is not available for interviews because of the ongoing investigations.
LINKS TO PERTINENT INFORMATION:
· Salt Lake City Police Department Use of Force Policy
· Salt Lake City Police Department Body-Worn Camera Policy