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A man who was shot by a West Valley City police officer in 2007 claims he was trying to surrender when the officer opened fire on him during a traffic stop.
But in the civil trial of David Matthew Hamson against Officer Jared Cardon, which began Monday in U.S. District Court, Cardon said Hamson was revving his engine as though he planned to ram Cardon and flee in a stolen car.
Cardon who faces scrutiny in a separate shooting this year that was deemed unjustified acted lawfully when he shot Hamson Oct. 21, 2007, county prosecutors found. But Hamson's attorney, Jared Parrish, said Monday that Hamson posed no threat and had turned off the car and held up his hands when he was shot.
"Real life is not like TV and movies," Parrish told the jury. "In real life, we have very specific rules for when officers are justified in using deadly force," Parrish said. Hamson, who is serving a prison sentence for driving the stolen car, is suing Cardon on allegations of excessive force.
Cardon testified that he feared for his life during his encounter with Hamson on Oct. 21, 2007, when he spotted the stolen Subaru Legacy near 3600 West and 2800 South. Cardon said he followed the car into a nearby apartment complex, where Hamson and his passenger pulled into a parking stall.
Cardon said he turned on his emergency lights, and Hamson got out of the car. After being ordered back into the car, Hamson hit reverse, Cardon said. The car "shot" backward as the woman in the car opened the passenger door, Cardon said. The door slammed against Cardon's cruiser, breaking Cardon's bumper.
Cardon said Hamson then locked eyes with him and revved the engine.
"I believed was projecting his escape route," Cardon said. "I was going to be right in his path. He was going to run me right over."
Cardon shot Hamson four times, striking him in the chest and the hand.
Parrish said Tuesday's testimony will show that Hamson was not trying to flee. He told jurors to consider: "If Officer Cardon had not fired his gun, would he have been killed or seriously injured?"
Cardon's attorney, Heather White, said Hamson's intentions don't matter.
"Your job is to stand in the shoes of a police officer," she told the jury. "It's not [about] what was going through Mr. Hamson's head."
Hamson's lawsuit is not the only allegation of inappropriate force Cardon is facing. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill this summer ruled that Cardon was unjustified in shooting at a fleeing driver after a hit-and-run crash in May. Witnesses reported the driver was trying to swerve around Cardon when Cardon fired at the driver and missed, Gill said.
Cardon remains on paid administrative leave pending internal investigations by West Valley City police. Gill said he is still considering criminal action against Cardon, but will not file charges as long as police investigations are under way.
Cardon also appeared before a federal court jury in March, when he was cleared of excessive force allegations made by another man, Cesar Medina. Medina claimed Cardon used excessive force by tackling him during a traffic stop. The jury found that Cardon's actions did not amount to excessive force.