Multiple agencies work together to end chase of robbery suspect

Feb 27 2013 - 2:16pm

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Brett Max Knight
Brett Max Knight

KAYSVILLE -- A Davis County sheriff's deputy is on paid administrative leave following the fatal shooting of Brett Max Knight, 33, who led police from multiple agencies on a high-speed chase Monday along Interstate 15.

Three Utah County sheriff's deputies also were involved in the shooting and are on paid administrative leave, said Dwayne Baird, spokesman for the state's Department of Public Safety.

Baird does not know which officer actually shot Knight, who had a handgun and was believed to be involved in a bank robbery in Draper. It is protocol for officers directly involved in a shooting to be put on paid administrative leave.

The state Bureau of Investigation is heading the investigation into the 50-mile chase that lasted about an hour and covered three counties, Baird said. The state agency is investigating because the chase involved multiple jurisdictions.

The shooting kept the northbound lanes from Farmington to Kaysville shut down from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday.

Maria Herrera, 18, of Layton, died when she was driving too fast on northbound I-15 to slow down for the stopped traffic and lost control of her 2003 Subaru Legacy near Centerville at 8:19 p.m., UHP Corporal Todd Johnson said. Herrera entered the left emergency lane, lost control of the Subaru and slid sideways across two lanes before hitting the right rear corner of a nearly stopped Hyundai passenger car. She then continued into the next lane and crashed into the rear of a stopped semi-truck. She continued into the right shoulder and was ejected out the driver's door.

She was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, officers said. No one else was seriously injured in the accident.

The Davis County Critical Incident Response Team, which includes detectives from every Davis County police agency, is handling the investigation into the shooting.

The Davis County Attorney's Office will review the team's findings and determine if the shooting was justified.

Baird said most of the law enforcement agencies along the Wasatch Front get the same type of training, so when an incident crosses county lines, they are all able to work together without trying to figure out who is in charge.

Davis County Sheriff Todd Richardson said his officers were listening to the radio chatter among the officers involved in the chase and dispatchers.

The decision was made to use Davis County's $250,000 armor-plated BearCat after a Utah Highway Patrol officer requested it, Richardson said.

"Usually it's (the sheriff's office) asking for assistance from UHP, so it was nice to repay them," Richardson said.

Davis County Sheriff's Capt. Arnold Butcher, who is over patrol, happened to be in the break room near the dispatch center when the BearCat was requested, Richardson said.

Butcher drove the armored 450 Ford truck, which has 2-inch-thick Lexon plastic windows, from Farmington to Kaysville. The truck has been used by several agencies since the county bought it, using matching grant funds, in 2011, Richardson said.

"It keeps our guy safe. That is what I care about," Richardson said.

All the deputies on patrol are trained on how to make the PIT maneuver with the BearCat.

"We don't PIT anyone unless they're going under 20 mph," Richardson said.

Richardson said after the BearCat pitted the truck, forcing it to stop near 200 North, a deputy got into a turret and looked around.

The officers who were behind the BearCat were told Knight was out of the truck, but he still had his gun, Richardson said.

Officers told Knight several times to drop his gun, Richardson said.

"But he brandished it at them, and the officers reacted," Richardson said. "We wish it would have had a peaceful ending."

The chase lasted so long because Knight pointed a gun at officers several times during the pursuit and officers opted to let him continue to prevent gunfire on the freeway, Baird said.

Monday's incident began when Draper detectives contacted Lehi police to say the man they believed robbed a Chase Bank on Friday was staying in a Lehi motel, Baird said.

Lehi and Draper officers arrived at the motel around 4 p.m., just as Knight came out of his room. When he saw the police, Knight jumped into his truck and took off onto 1-15. Speeds at the beginning of the chase neared 110 mph.

Utah Highway Patrol troopers in Utah County and Utah County sheriff's deputies became involved in the chase.

When the chase entered Salt Lake County, UHP troopers threw spike strips from the side of the road in front of the truck around 4300 South, Baird said.

"It is routine to use spikes as a way to bring a chase to a safe conclusion," Baird said. "Spikes don't blow out the tires but release the air gradually."

Other UHP troopers were busy keeping traffic away from those involved in the chase. Officers will use their lights, getting in front of traffic, and weave across lanes to slow down the traffic when there is an emergency, whether it is a chase, an accident or a large item in the lanes, Baird said.

But Knight refused to stop, even when he was driving on the rims in Bountiful.

The chase ended at 5:05 p.m. when the BearCat pitted Knight's truck, forcing it to stop near 200 North in Kaysville.

Knight has had past run-ins with the law, according to court records.

In 2004, he pleaded guilty to theft in 4th District Court in Provo and was placed on probation.

In 2007, Knight pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault in Salt Lake County Justice Court and again received probation. He also received probation in 2011 in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City after being found guilty of violating a protective order.

Standard-Examiner reporter Bryon Saxton contributed to this article.

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