Caution

FARMINGTON — The Davis County Attorney’s Office has ruled that a Farmington police officer was justified when he fired on a man who crashed a car into a patrol cruiser and approached officers with a knife.

In a May 6 report obtained with a public records request, County Attorney Troy Rawlings said the Farmington officer — one of two who fired at the man — “had a reasonable belief that his use of deadly force was necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to himself or a fellow officer.”

Robert Joseph Evans, 29, died at a hospital five hours after the shooting, which occurred at 2:19 a.m. Dec. 13, 2020. Farmington police said an officer and a Utah Highway Patrol trooper fired on Evans.

Rawlings said by email that the Farmington officer “was clearly justified. ... It was not a close call.”

The critical incident investigation by Rawlings’ office, standard procedure after police use of deadly force, has not yet been closed in the case of the UHP trooper.

“We have not declined on the UHP trooper yet,” Rawlings said.

When a county attorney rules a police shooting is justified, the office issues a “declination letter,” representing a decision not to prosecute.

The officers’ names were not released, also common practice.

The county attorney’s investigation report said both officers involved in the shooting initially declined to speak to investigators. The Farmington officer, accompanied by his attorney, eventually met with county investigators on April 28.

The county attorney’s report said the two officers and a second Farmington officer were investigating a car theft at 121 S. 650 West in Farmington when a southbound four-door sedan driven by Evans crashed into a Farmington police car.

The report said Evans, a Farmington resident, got out of the car, pulled a knife and advanced on the trooper, who began yelling commands at him. The trooper fired and the Farmington officer, standing to the right of the trooper, also fired. The officers both carried Glock handguns.

Investigators interviewed three neighboring residents about the shooting and also spoke to Evans’ father. The elder Evans told investigators his son had a history of mental illness.

Evans’ father said he had contacted his son earlier “and it sounded like he was having a mental episode.” The elder Evans also described to investigators a black folding knife his son was known to carry.

Evans’ death was the third fatality involving police shootings in 2020 in Davis County.

Clinton and Roy police were in a shootout with a suspect who crashed a car in a Clinton field on Aug. 8. Aaron Griffin fired nine shots at officers in a running gun battle, a county attorney’s report said, and three officers collectively fired 17 shots.

In his declination letter, Rawlings described officers’ actions as “good police work that may have saved lives.”

Still under investigation is the Sept. 15, 2020, fatal shooting of Clay Reynolds, 27, in front of Viewmont High School.

A Bountiful police report at the time said officers responded to the school at about 10:30 p.m. on a report of a suspicious person and found a man armed with a shotgun, a bow and arrow and a knife. Reynolds reportedly picked up the shotgun and was commanded to drop it, but he fired the shotgun, drawing return fire.

You can reach reporter Mark Shenefelt at mshenefelt@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mshenefelt.

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