Brandon Chief was shot and killed on December 17, 2010, by West Valley City police officers. Chief’s family says the officers used excessive force when opening fire on their son.
On December 17th 2010 a 911 call was made by Brandon Chief's 13 year old niece. They had got into a fight and Chief had allegedly been drinking and got physical with the girl. According to the Chief family's attorney, the officers who were responding got some additional information about chief before they got to the house. They were told he was known to own a rifle.
"From that point on the officers took a completely different approach,” explained Todd Macfarlane.
Macfarlane says the officers took the position they were dealing with an active shooter situation and they entered the house with their guns drawn. When they found Chief he was in the hallway of the home.
According to West Valley City Police, when Officer Levi Lloyd asked to speak with Chief he turned around to head back down the hallway and when he turned around to face the officers again, he had a knife in his hand. After being asked to drop the knife, the officer opened fire.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill found that the shooting of Chief was justified. He told ABC 4 Utah, "If the officer felt that his life was in danger, and when you have anyone with a knife who is approaching the officer and the command is being given, the officer in fearing for his life and the safety of others he can use that force."
But Chief's attorney says Brandon was shot three times, twice in the side and once in the back and that couldn’t have been possible if Chief was facing the officers as they allege.
Macfarlane said, "According to forensic evidence Brandon was shot in the back and the only time, according to the officer's testimony, that Brandon’s back was exposed to him was when he was retreating away."
Macfarlane argues with Chief's back turned there's no way he could have posed a threat to the officer's safety.
District Attorney Sim Gill says he has no plans to change his findings. He stands behind his decision that the officer’s shooting was justified.
U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart is currently deciding whether the Chief’s wrongful death lawsuit will go to trial. If it does, it’s scheduled to begin in January.