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Salt Lake City police have released video taken from officers’ body cams depicting their actions in the shooting death of a 34-year-old man who was holding a victim at knifepoint.
The footage, released Friday, shows the moment that two officers fired a number of shots that killed Andrew Jacob Preece outside a grocery store on July 25.
Officers fired on Preece as he held a knife that was “the length of a forearm” to the victim’s throat,” the Daily Mail reported.
According to a department spokesman, Capt. Richard Lewis, the incident occurred shortly after 9 a.m. after Preece got into an altercation with another unidentified male.
Prior to the shootings, officers can be heard imploring Preece to “drop the knife,” adding that continuing to hold the other male at knifepoint, the Deseret News added.
Police said that initially, the two men entered the store to steal something, but that at one point they got into an argument inside the business. Witnesses said the both appeared to be drunk.
“I think they’re drunk or something. They keep fighting each other in the parking lot,” said a store employee who called 911. “They can’t even walk straight.”
After describing the size of the knife one of the men held, the store employee noted further that both of them “keep turning around like they’re going to come back into the store, and they keep looking over here.”
After the first officer arrives, his body cam records both men walking on a sidewalk in front of the store. Preece is seen holding the knife as he has his hand on the unidentified man and appears to be leading him.
**Warning: Extremely graphic
“I will tase you,” the officer says in the video. “Stop right there.”
The officer then pulls out his sidearm and can be seen holding it and his taser.
Then, Preece can be seen pulling the other man close and bringing the knife to his throat. As a female officer arrives, the first officer says, “He’s got a hostage,” as he holsters the taser.
“Dude, it’s not worth it,” the female officer yells. “I guarantee it, dude, I promise you.”
Preece is seen facing one officer, thus exposing his side. As he does that, one shot is fired, followed by a momentary pause, then a second shot, and then a third.
Several more are fired in rapid succession as the hostage managed to break free from Preece. In all, around nine-10 shots were fired. The first was fired about a minute into the video.
Both officers then attempt to provide lifesaving care to Preece, but he later died from his wounds at a nearby hospital.
Preece has several misdemeanor and felony arrests and charges that date back to 2005, the Deseret News reported. He graduated from mental health court in March after being charged with retail theft, which was a class A misdemeanor.
The charge was later amended to a class B misdemeanor after he finished his required mental health court.
The shooting is currently being investigated by the Officer Involved Critical Incident unit. Findings will be turned over to the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, which is responsible for determining whether the shooting was justified.
Preece’s family called the shooting “unjustified,” according to Fox 13 Now.
“We feel that the actions taken in this altercation was unnecessary. Andrew was not in his right state of mind but he never wanted to hurt anyone. He had a history with law enforcement but that doesn’t make him in any way less of a person,” his family noted in a statement to the station.
“This could have been prevented by taking a few extra minutes or hour to talk him down if that’s what it would take. In our opinion it did not look like a hostage situation, rather Andrew leaning on his friend for support because it appeared that he was in some way hurt,” the family added.
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