Utah police release bodycam footage of parking lot traffic stop that ended in shooting death of driver linked to sovereign citizen movement
Story by Marisa Sarnoff, Law & Crime, 3/9/23
EDITORIAL: If you want to know how to handle a traffic stop with the police to stay out of this kind of trouble, see:
Police/Terry Stop Handout, Form #09.078
Body-worn camera footage from a traffic stop in Utah that turned deadly reveals what led to the struggle between officers and the uncooperative driver moments before he was killed.
Chase Allan, 25, was shot and killed by police in Farmington on March 1. City officials had released a statement at the time providing few details of the incident, and Allan’s family said in a statement that police had been “stonewalling” them.
“Our family was not properly notified of Chase’s death as next of kin,” the family said in their statement. “We found out about Chase’s death along with the entirety of our community via News Reporters and Articles written online.”
On Wednesday, Farmington Police Chief Eric Johnsen shared a compilation of body camera footage from the five officers involved and dash camera video from the incident at a press conference. According to the video, the officers opened fire after at least one of them yelled “Gun!” multiple times during a struggle to get Allan out of the car.
The video shows the initial interactions between Allan and the person Johnsen referred to as “Officer A.” Much of Allan’s part of the verbal exchange with the officers was largely inaudible.
“I don’t need registration and I don’t answer questions,” Allan could be heard saying after Officer A told him that there was “no registration” on his car.
Officer A called for backup as Allan continued to refuse to answer questions or provide identification.
“You do not have an option to identify yourself,” the officer is heard saying. “You are lawfully required to identify yourself. You can provide your identification to me and we can have a conversation about the laws you have broken, or you can fail to identify yourself to me and we can go that route too.”
“The direction that this encounter goes is 100% in your hands,” Officer A added.
After some more back and forth, Allan apparently shows the officer what he describes as a “passport” that identifies him as Chase Allan.
“Thank you so much, Mr. Chase Allan,” the officer is heard saying.
“That is not me, that is a piece of plastic paper,” Allan responds.
“So you have a fraudulent passport?” Officer A asks. “Wonderful.”
At that point, other officers have arrived and are also pressing Allan to get out of the car. One officer tells Allan that if he doesn’t get out of the car voluntarily, the officers will break the window and pull him out.
“Step out of the car for me,” an officer says.
“No,” Allan replies.
“Sir, step out of the vehicle,” an officer repeats.
“No, I am not required to,” Allan says.
Allan is then heard saying that the officers will “have an issue” if they proceed. At the press conference, Johnsen pointed out that Allan transfers his cellphone from one hand to the other, revealing a firearm holster on his hip that appears to be “flexing upward.”
As an officer opens the car door, Allan’s hand can be seen moving toward his right hip, where the holster is located. It is also apparent from the video that Allan is wearing his seatbelt at this time, and the buckle of the seatbelt is located near his right hip as well.
A struggle to remove Allan from the car ensues, and in a matter of seconds, an officer yells: “Gun! Gun! Gun!”
All five officers then open fire on the car. An engine can be heard revving as this happens, which Johnson attributed to Allan’s foot on the accelerator.
“Cease fire!” an officer is heard yelling repeatedly.
The video then shows one officer removing Allan’s motionless body from the car. Johnsen notes that the holster on his hip is empty and a gun is located on the floor of the driver’s side seat.
According to Johnsen, the car had a “placard” where the license plate should be.
“There’s a flag symbol, I don’t know what the text says on there,” Johnsen told reporters. “It’s not a plate from the state of Utah or any of the other 49 states.”
When asked for a response to the Allan family’s accusation that Chase Allan’s death was a “brutal murder” at the hands of police, Johnsen appeared to hedge somewhat, having previously said that the investigation into the shooting is ongoing.
“I say it’s just a tragic ending to what started out as an everyday traffic stop,” the police chief said. “The proverbial routine traffic stop ended in tragedy.”
At the start of the press conference, Johnsen said that the “people who have assembled to show support for the Allan family” have done so “peacefully and appropriately,” and that he appreciated their restraint.
According to local news reports, Allan and his family have long been linked to the so-called “sovereign citizen” movement, whose adherents claim they are not required to follow state or federal law.
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