FARMINGTON — On a quiet spring afternoon in 2018, a man was in crisis. Police officers were burned, and a medic was assaulted.
This week, that man in crisis, now seemingly more stable, was sent to prison.
South Ogden resident Tyler Ray Ivison, 27, was present in court when he was sentenced Wednesday to serve at least the next five years, and possibly the rest of his life, in a Utah state prison.
Ivison was charged in October with multiple felony counts, including one count of aggravated arson and four counts of assaulting a peace officer. He pleaded guilty to a handful of charges in June. The charges were filed months after Ivison filled up a gas can at a Kaysville gas station, walked inside and doused himself in gasoline.
Police tried to intervene, but a scuffle ensued, which led to Ivison igniting himself.
On Wednesday morning, body camera footage from two of the officers who responded to the gas station was played in court. The officer is shown walking into a bathroom at a Chevron in Kaysville. Two gas canisters can be seen in Ivison’s hands. Another officer arrives quickly behind the first, and the two begin to ask Ivison for the lighter in his hand.
“Can you give us the lighter in your hand, Tyler?” an officer asks.
“No,” Ivison says in a soft, low voice. “Can I talk to my wife?”
The officers assure him that he can talk to his wife, but first he had to give them the lighter. They assure him he’s not in trouble, they just need the lighter.
Moments later, a scuffle ensues, and an officer tries to rush Ivison. Suddenly, flames appear. Someone can be heard screaming; it’s unsure who. One officer is seen and heard consoling a burned officer.
“I f------ tried, man,” the injured officer wails, lying still on the ground.
Earlier in court, Ivison’s family members described him as a loving, jovial person who had his share of personal problems. Ivison’s wife told the court that he is a loving husband, whose mental health has been improving since he began his stay in the Davis County Jail.
“I want you to know that my husband is not a monster,” she said. “He is a good person, he did not want to hurt anyone, he only wanted to harm himself.”
Ivison’s sister addressed the court as well, saying her brother has struggled with mental health issues for years. She recalled a conversation where her brother asked why he couldn’t be normal.
“That’s all Tyler wants, is just a stable life,” his sister said. “Prison is not the right place for him. He wants to work, he wants to be with his family.”
Ivison’s attorney, Todd Utzinger, encouraged Judge David Hamilton to view Ivison as a person in distress, not a danger to the community. Utzinger said Ivison has come a long way since that April day, where he later assaulted a medic in a helicopter as he was being taken to the University of Utah’s Burn Center in Salt Lake City.
Utzinger asked the court for leniency, saying a strict probation term would allow Ivison to remain in treatment with his family nearby as a support system.
Deputy Davis County Attorney Richard Larsen, on the other hand, argued that Ivison was more of a dangerous individual than described by Utzinger. Larsen said that Ivison had a history of making threats and harming himself, alleging that at one point in 2017 Ivison had threatened to light himself on fire. Ivison had been prescribed medication for his mental health issues, Larsen said, but he has a history of skipping his meds.
According to Larsen, Ivison had told coworkers that day that “something bad was going to happen” and that he would not be at work the next Monday.
“This is not someone who is not dangerous to the community,” Larsen said.
Ivison, a tall, burly man with slicked back hair, became emotional at different points of the hearing. He apologized for the actions that landed him in court, and apologized to the police and first responders whom were injured.
“They are heroes, and I thank them for saving me that day,” Ivison said.
He told the judge that he is now stable, and that a chance at probation would allow him to continue his progress.
Hamilton thanked Ivison’s family for their insight provided through a number of letters sent to the court. Over a dozen people were present in court Wednesday on Ivison’s behalf. However, Hamilton said he had a great amount of concern for the matter of pubic safety, citing Ivison’s past threats of harm to himself or others and his history of absconding from mental health guidelines.
“Prison is not a solution, there’s no doubt about that. But in dealing with this, there are concerns,” Hamilton said. “I can’t make any other conclusion that you are a danger to the community.”
Hamilton sentenced Ivison to prison, saying the charges to which he pled will run concurrently. Ivison was also ordered to pay restitution totaling over $4,000, which included damages to the gas station and the helicopter that brought him to the Salt Lake City hospital.
Larsen requested that Ivison also pay for the workers compensation for the wounded officers, which totaled over $90,000. However, the determination of whether Ivison should, or even could, pay that amount was not made during the Wednesday hearing. A hearing regarding restitution is scheduled to take place in October.
Ivison was in the custody of the Davis County Jail as of Thursday afternoon, and had yet to be transferred to the custody of the Utah Department of Corrections to serve his prison term.