This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Newly-unsealed court documents reveal that three teenage boys have been charged with murder and other crimes in the death of West Valley City police Officer Cody Brotherson.
Brotherson was killed on Nov. 6, when he was struck by a vehicle believed to be stolen while laying down a set of spike strips.
Two brothers, ages 14 and 15, and another 15-year-old boy, were in the car, court documents allege. They each have been charged with first-degree felony murder, along with first-degree felony theft, for allegedly stealing the vehicle that struck Brotherson.
All three are also charged with misdemeanor failure to stop at the command of police, while two of the boys also face felony obstructing justice charges for allegedly lying to investigating officers.
The two brothers also were charged with possessing burglary tools a shaved spoon and the older brother also faces a misdemeanor charge alleging he had brass knuckles.
The murder and theft charges were filed with gang enhancements prosecutors allege in court papers that the crimes were committed "for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang ... or to gain recognition, acceptance, membership, or increased status with a criminal street gang."
The boys were charged on Nov. 30, but the documents were filed under seal at the request of defense attorneys. Third District Juvenile Court Judge Kimberly Hornak ruled Thursday that the case should be unsealed after a coalition of Utah's media asked for the case to be public. On Friday, court officials released the charging information.
The Tribune generally does not name juvenile defendants unless they have been certified to stand trial as adults.
On the day of the fatal crash, a chase began just after 3 a.m. on Nov. 6, after police officers saw a silver BMW coupe with Florida plates that had stopped in the middle of an intersection.
They saw a group of people walk from the BMW to an apartment complex, and watched the trio get into a Honda Accord and drive away.
The officers tried to stop that vehicle, but the driver punched it on 4100 South, heading west. Officers threw spikes near Redwood Road, but that didn't stop the suspects.
Another police officer told investigators that he could see Brotherson out of his vehicle near 2200 West, trying to put down another set of tire spikes.
"[The officer] observed the Honda Accord swerve towards [Brotherson] and strike him with the vehicle," a detective wrote in a search warrant affidavit. "[The officer] stopped to check on the officer that had been struck. He found Officer Brotherson was down and appeared to be deceased from the impact."
The charging documents do not say who was allegedly driving the vehicle at the time of the crash. Police have remained tight-lipped about the investigation, and prosecutors have refused to comment on the case because it involves juveniles.
After the crash, two of the boys initially told police that they had offered an unknown man $5 to give them a ride, a detective wrote in the search warrant affidavit, and that this unknown person was driving the vehicle during the police chase. They later admitted that the story was made up.
The youngest boy then told police that they had stolen the car, according to the affidavit, and that it was his 15-year-old friend who was driving, while he and his brother were passengers.
"[He] said he told [the 15-year-old driver] to stop but he would not," a detective wrote in the affidavit. "[He] said he thought they hit a wall, not the officer."
The older brother refused to talk to police. The other 15-year-old refused to tell police who was driving the car, according to the affidavit.
All three of the boys have previous criminal histories, according to court officials.
Since July, the older brother has been referred to juvenile court on charges of marijuana use, criminal trespassing, aggravated assault and receiving stolen property. The younger brother was referred to juvenile court for the first time in August 2015, and has since been charged with criminal mischief, criminal trespassing, retail theft, possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor, possession of burglary tools, receiving stolen property and aggravated assault.
The third boy has been referred to the court on assault charges in two separate incidents, one in January and the other in November, according to court officials.