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Utah Cops Killed More People Than Gangs

5-year review finds only domestic violence has taken more lives in the state
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 24, 2014 1:52 PM CST
Utah Cops Killed More People Than Gangs
Stock image   (Shutterstock)

Police watchdogs have their antennae up at the latest report coming out of Utah: A Salt Lake Tribune review that pored over 300 homicides in the state has found that the most killings there over the past five years weren't at the hands of child abusers, drug dealers, or even gang members—they were from law enforcement. The report, which analyzed homicides since 2010, reveals that deadly force by police accounted for the second-highest number of homicides in Utah—45 deaths, or 15% of all homicides—with only domestic violence responsible for more. This review comes on the heels of a South Jordan man being shot to death by police over the weekend in a horse corral, the Tribune reports. This year alone there have been 13 homicides involving cops.

Of the deadly encounters between police and citizens over the period of the report, county prosecutors considered only one to be "unjustified"—and manslaughter charges against that detective were dismissed in October, the Tribune notes. While the training manual for Utah recruits states, "Officers may use any force available provided they can justify the reasonableness of force used," the ex-chief of police in Omaha notes the nuances, telling the Tribune, "Sometimes the line between 'is it legal and is it necessary' becomes difficult to distinguish." (Deadly force was used in the weekend shooting of a 12-year-old Cleveland boy.)

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