OGDEN -- Supporters of Matthew David Stewart are remaining active on several fronts separate from the courthouse, where the Ogden man faces the death penalty over a shootout at his home that left him and six police officers injured, one fatally.
The Ogden public safety building has since been renamed for Jared Francom, who died in the Jan. 4, 2012, forced-entry serving of a marijuana search warrant at Stewart's home by the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force. Stewart is charged with capital homicide in Francom's death, his trial set for spring 2014.
In the meantime, Stewart's family and friends are lobbying the Ogden City Council on issues from the case and are gathering records of the reviews by the Weber County Attorney's Office of all officer-involved shootings dating back to 1991.
Stewart supporters haven't said exactly what they want from the city council after supplying members with packets of letters and information several weeks ago. They've requested a response from the council at the March 26 council meeting.
The basic goal is the end of "home invasion-style raids" by police, said Erna Stewart, Stewart's sister-in-law, the family spokeswoman.
"It's too dangerous. We've said that from the start of all of this. Leave the strike force out on the street and not in our homes."
The group would like "stricter guidelines to follow in order to obtain any sort of warrant in relation to nonviolent crimes and perhaps a police review board made up of local citizens," she said.
Last week, the county attorney's office released records relating to officer-involved shootings requested by Stewart supporters. They included the Dec. 18 case in which an Ogden officer fired at, but did not hit, a motorist in a police chase that ended in Logan. That motorist, Clifford Dean Owens, is accused of ramming several patrol cars before the incident ended with his arrest.
The shots fired by Ogden patrolman Justin Kaufman were ruled unjustified, likely the first time in more than 20 years that the Weber prosecutor's review found a policeman's use of lethal force was not appropriate.
Kaufman has not been charged criminally, and any departmental sanctions have not been announced.
But the Government Records Access and Management Act -- or GRAMA -- request asked for the reviews of 21 cases dating back to 1991, and only four were released.
"It's a joke," said Sonja Stewart, mother of Matthew Stewart. "They said they only keep the records for five years, but they gave us one from 2006."
The GRAMA request was based in part on news accounts of the 20-plus shootings dating back to 1991.
Officials said state record-retention requirements only mandate keeping such records for five years, and some of the incidents in the Stewart GRAMA request were actually Davis County cases.
"If we have the records, we'll give them to them," said Weber County Attorney Dee Smith.
The city council campaign and the GRAMA requests have been separate from Stewart's legal defense, said his lead counsel, Randy Richards.
"I didn't ask them to do that," he said Friday. Richards hasn't seen the shooting review data that has been gathered, he said, "but I will certainly look at it."
The Stewart group is active on a Facebook page and several websites. They have recently joined hands with family and friends of a Provo man who is accused of firing at police who were forcing entry with a search warrant in November.
Two ounces of marijuana were found, according to court records. There were no injuries, but Alex Opmanis is charged with attempted aggravated murder.
The case echoes issues in the Stewart case, with Opmanis claiming he didn't know it was police breaking down his front door.
He believed he was about to be robbed, according to statements, just as Stewart has claimed.
Supporters of Opmanis are expressing anger that officials there have gathered all manner of medical and personal records on him now, instead of doing such research before they stormed his home over 2 ounces of marijuana.
Opmanis has brain damage from injuries received in an accident when he was 16, according to court records. On Tuesday, in 4th District Court in Provo, he was found incompetent to stand trial and was committed to the state mental hospital until he can be "restored to competency."
Case Files: More on the Stewart story: http://www.case-files.standardnetlive.com/