Editor’s note: This video of Roy police officers fatally shooting a man is included in this report because, though the content is graphic, it establishes what happened during the event. The Standard-Examiner typically avoids graphic content if possible, but exceptions are made when the case is of vital public interest.
ROY — Over a month after the fatal shooting of a 38-year-old man by Roy Police Department officers, body camera footage of the incident has been released.
The footage included below is two of four police body camera videos released Friday, March 31, after a press conference put on by Heather White, an attorney with Snow, Christensen & Martineau hired by Roy City. Two of the videos, which were recorded as police began investigating after the shooting, did not show the incident and aren’t included in this post.
The names of the police officers involved in the shooting are not being released at this time, White said during the press conference.
At about 10 p.m. Feb. 21, two Roy police officers responded to a trespassing call at a Texaco gas station at 4395 S. 1900 West. Following the incident, police said Nicolas Sanchez, 38, of Layton, was fatally shot after raising a gun toward officers and engaging in a fight with them.
After being shot, Sanchez was transported to a local hospital and later pronounced dead, according to Roy Police Department Deputy Chief Aaron Perry.
The body camera video from the first officer to arrive at the scene shows him approach the convenience store and stand near a curb outside. Sanchez is several feet away, standing near the business’ open doorway.
The video from the second officer to respond shows him get out of his vehicle and approach Sanchez and the first officer.
Two customers’ faces were blurred out of the videos, and the audio for both starts at about the 15 second mark. A statement from White says this is because “the camera is programmed to recapture video, but not audio, fifteen seconds prior to the activation of the camera.”
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The officers — who White described as “younger” — ask Sanchez to come over to where they’re standing and speak with them. Sanchez asks the officers what he did and what they want to speak with him about.
A few moments later, Sanchez moves away from the doorway and puts his right hand in his pocket.
“Keep your hands out of your pockets for me,” the second police officer says.
“Oh, sorry, I ain’t got nothing,” Sanchez says. While he’s speaking, Sanchez takes his hand out of his pocket, lifts his sweatshirt to show his waistband and places his hands on the outside of his pockets.
“You’ve got a gun on you, do not reach for it,” the second officer says.
“Yeah, do not reach for it,” the first officer says.
The first officer approaches Sanchez, and Sanchez asks what he’s doing. Sanchez begins to move away from the officer, and the officer chases him.
As he’s chasing Sanchez, the first officer grabs him by the back of his hoodie and appears to punch him. The two men fall to the ground.
At the same time, the second officer yells, “Let me see your hands, let me see your hands.” He fires his weapon in Sanchez’s direction once. There’s a brief pause before about 15 more shots are heard.
The first officer and Sanchez were on the ground for about three seconds before gunfire started. There’s a flurry of activity in those moments, and the first officer’s body camera video doesn’t offer a clear view of what happened.
In a written statement provided at the press conference, White said officers saw a handgun tucked into the left side of Sanchez’s waistband when he lifted his sweatshirt.
The first officer was trying to get Sanchez’s gun away from him during their “struggle,” the statement says. “At one point, the officer trying to wrestle the gun from Sanchez’s hands saw the gun pointing at his face,” it reads.
The second officer believed his partner’s life was in danger and fired his gun, the statement says. The first officer got the gun away from Sanchez around that time, the statement says, and shot Sanchez with the deceased’s weapon.
White said the first officer decided to shoot Sanchez because he heard shots being fired and didn’t know if Sanchez had another weapon.
The first officer did not fire any shots with his own gun — only the gun he took from Sanchez, the statement says.
The entire incident lasted just over a minute. White was unable to provide information about how many times Sanchez was shot or where. White said the first officer fired two or three rounds, but didn’t provide more specific information about how many shots were fired.
White’s statement — as well as previous statements from police — says Sanchez had an “extensive criminal history.”
Before coming to Utah, Sanchez lived in California and was involved with gangs there, according to Annette Olsen. Olsen, a close friend from Layton who employed Sanchez at her dog kenneling business, said he left that life behind when he moved to Utah.
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However, in August 2010, Sanchez was sentenced to five years in federal prison and three years probation after police found guns at his Clearfield home and in a storage unit on Olsen’s business property. Court records say he admitted the weapons — including three handguns, five rifles, a shotgun and ammunition — were his.
“What frustrates me is he was in possession of firearms. He wouldn’t have hurt anyone, he liked to go target shooting,” Olsen told the Standard-Examiner after Sanchez’s death. “I can see if he were robbing someone and he had a gun, but he just had (guns) in his house.”
Because of felony convictions in California, Sanchez was not allowed to have the weapons.
According to previous Standard-Examiner reporting, information about Sanchez’s criminal record in California isn’t immediately available because the state doesn’t have a public online court records system. However, White’s statement says his criminal history includes assault, battery, robbery, drug possession, possession of stolen property, gang activity, weapons violations, parole violations, unlawful discharge of a weapon at a person from a car, attempted murder and more.
It was not immediately clear Friday afternoon whether White’s statement referred to criminal convictions or charges that didn’t ultimately result in convictions.
After Sanchez served his prison time for the Utah gun conviction, a probation officer recommended he be released from supervision two years early. A judge granted the request Jan. 27, 2017 — about a month before Sanchez’s death.
Per protocol, the Weber County Attorney’s Office is investigating whether the shooting was justified and the two officers who were involved have been placed on paid administrative leave. A toxicology report has been ordered on Sanchez’s body, but White wasn’t sure Friday if it had been completed.
It was also unclear when the Weber County Attorney’s Office’s investigation will conclude, White said.
“We believe that the officers acted appropriately,” White said at the Friday press conference. “They did what they were trained and expected to do under the circumstances.”
She said the officers “were dealing with a man with a violent criminal history,” but said she didn’t know whether the officers knew about Sanchez’s background at the time of the shooting.
White said since the officers were called to the store, they had a responsibility to investigate.
“There is a store clerk and a witness inside the store who reported (Sanchez) was acting suspiciously,” she said. “And there are two individuals right in the immediate vicinity there. So the officers...were entitled to conduct their investigation and had to ensure that he did not get away.”
As of Friday afternoon, it wasn’t clear why Sanchez wasn’t allowed at the gas station and was deemed a trespasser.
Through a Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) request, the Standard-Examiner obtained 911 audio of a gas station employee calling Weber County emergency dispatchers to report a man named Nick was trespassing.
In the recording, the employee says Sanchez was told not to come to the business, but had been there multiple times over the past two weeks. She says he was near the store’s front window using a “quarter pusher machine.”
White’s written statement says a clerk and customer saw Sanchez “loitering in the store and acting suspiciously,” with his car’s engine still running in the parking lot.
This is a developing story that will be updated with more information soon.