WEST JORDAN — A West Jordan police officer was legally justified when he shot a man last month, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced Friday.
A report from Gill revealed that in the days leading up to the July 10 shooting at Jordan Landing, Timothy James Peterson, 31, had violated a protective order and had threatened online to either shoot officers or attempt "suicide by cop."
Peterson was released from the hospital and booked into Salt Lake County Jail on outstanding warrants on July 15. He was charged Aug. 12 with assaulting an officer, a second-degree felony, as well as unlawful possession of a weapon and failure to stop at an officer's command, both class A misdemeanors.
West Jordan police began circulating an officer safety bulletin July 7 with Peterson's picture and description after his ex-wife reported that he had violated a protective order and came to her home late at night. An anonymous tipster had also provided officers with four pages of threatening statements from his Facebook profile, Gill said.
Peterson's posts included threats to "shoot the cops if they come," and "I'll kill you and your whole (expletive) family I aint goin home to mine so neither will you. This aint no cry for help I'm just not going back to jail," according to the report.
A friend who was with Peterson the night of the shooting told investigators Peterson was carrying a large knife and a piece of metal he had bent to look like a gun, with a laser pointer attached to the piece resembling a barrel. Peterson had described his "suicide by cop" plans to him, the man said.
In an interview with officers, Peterson denied bending the metal with the laser on it in order to resemble a gun, claiming it bent when he fell on it after being shot.
West Jordan police officer Ian Adams had reviewed the safety bulletin and outstanding warrants regarding Peterson before beginning his shift on July 10, then spotted Peterson and his friend in the Office Max parking lot at 7037 S. Plaza Center Drive.
Adams approached the men in his vehicle, asked their names, then exited the car. Peterson, who had said his name was "Mike," began to run and tossed a grocery sack and another object aside as the officer chased him on foot. Investigators later located a large knife in the area.
Peterson then slowed, turned around, and drew what looked like a gun, according to the report. Adams said he shouted "Gun!" and as Peterson raised his hand with the metal object in it, Adams fired, striking Peterson twice.
After responding officers arrived to render aid and take Peterson into custody, Peterson reportedly told officers "that his name was Tim Peterson and that he was sorry," Gill's report states.
Because Adams was aware of Peterson's previous threats, Gill said it was logical for him to believe Peterson would try to shoot him. "So when Peterson ran, turned and presented what officer Adams believed to be a weapon, it was reasonable for officer Adams to believe that his life was in jeopardy and that it was necessary for officer Adams to use deadly force against Peterson. As such, his use of deadly force is 'justified' under Utah law," the district attorney wrote.
Peterson was arrested in February for misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia and disorderly conduct, according to court records. A warrant was issued for his arrest July 8 for failing to show up to a mandatory court hearing in that case. He was also charged with DUI and misdemeanor drug possession in January.
In 2006, Peterson was found guilty in a domestic violence related incident and took a plea in abeyance. His now ex-wife filed for divorce in 2013.
In October, Peterson took a plea in abeyance, pleading guilty to violating a protective order. His ex-wife filed for another protective order in January and another in February, according to court records.
In 2003, Peterson was charged with six other defendants with three counts of theft and one count of burglary, all first-degree felonies. The case was eventually dismissed.
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