The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Morgan County, Utah Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Peay was justified when she shot Kristine Biggs Johnson, who was unarmed, in the face on Nov. 24, 2012.
Johnson, who was allegedly drunk, led police on a high-speed chase, but her pickup truck got boxed in at a cul de sac.
A police dash cam video filmed Peay as he shot Johnson in the eye at close range.
It’s not clear why Peay did not simply shoot out Johnson’s tires, but opted instead to shoot Johnson in the head.
At no time did the deputies lives appear to be in danger as the pickup truck was stopped when Peay fired.
In a lawsuit, Johnson claimed police used excessive force was used by Peay. The court ruled that Peay’s force “may have been unnecessary” but speculated that Johnson might have been using her car as a weapon:
(Peay) reacted to a high-intensity situation after Johnson had led law enforcement on a lengthy car chase, repeatedly failed to heed officers’ warnings and commands, and maneuvered her truck in a way that a reasonable police officer could have concluded she was using it as a weapon and was intent on resuming her flight, even if it meant putting officers’ lives in danger.
The Davis County Attorney Office’s independent investigation found that Peay’s “use of potentially lethal force … was not necessitated by the facts” and the shooting did “not squarely fit with the letter, scope and intent of” state and related federal law.
The District Attorney refused to prosecute Peay because “a unanimous jury would not convict Sergeant Peay of a crime when presented with all of the evidence.”