A federal judge has dismissed a sheriff's deputy from a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a Davis County man shot and killed in 2008 following a domestic dispute.
U.S. District Court Judge David Nuffer said Brian Wood's family failed to show the Davis County sheriff's deputy Joshua Boucher acted unreasonably or flagrantly violated their constitutional rights during their incident. Farmington city and Davis County also are asking the judge to grant summary judgment dismissing them from the case. Salt Lake City also is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Wood, 37, a part-time Farmington firefighter, was killed outside his home following a 12-hour standoff that began when he called 911 and claimed falsely, his family maintains that he had beaten and raped his wife. Wood then got into a pickup truck, taking two pistols with him, and refused his family's efforts to defuse the situation.
Wood also refused police officers' initial requests that he put down the handguns and leave the vehicle. After about two hours, officers used tear gas to force Wood out of the truck. Wood, who still had one handgun, remained next to the vehicle for several more hours and refused to put down the weapon, which he periodically pointed at himself.
Numerous officers from Farmington, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Centerville, Bountiful, Clearfield, Davis County and Syracuse responded to the scene, according to the lawsuit.
Officers eventually used foam baton rounds, pepper balls, flash-bang diversionary grenades and verbal commands in an attempt to get Wood to drop the gun. When those tactics failed, a Salt Lake City police detective used a Taser on Wood. Officers said Wood continued to hold and point his gun at them after he was first hit by the Taser multiple times, according to court documents. That's when sheriff's deputy Joshua Boucher fatally shot Wood.
Wood's family subsequently sued Boucher, Farmington, Salt Lake City and Davis County, alleging use of deadly force was unjustified.
The judge said given the severity of the situation and Wood's "active resistance," the decision to use force was not unreasonable.
"It is uncontested that three separate officers at the scene, each assigned as an advanced observer marksman, made an independent decision to take lethal force against Mr. Wood at the same time that Deputy Boucher shot Mr. Wood because of their perceptions of an immediate threat," the judge said.
Nuffer noted that even if the gun was not in Wood's hand at the moment he was shot, it was still within reach and thus still a threat to the officers. Boucher, the judge said, was "fulfilling his legal duty and exercising his legal right to protect himself and others from the immediate threat Mr. Wood presented."