MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Utah Officer on Paid Leave After Shooting Woman Who Was Holding a Screwdriver

A county prosecutor says the cop was not justified in shooting the screwdriver-wielding woman.

Screenshot via The Salt Lake TribuneScreenshot via The Salt Lake TribuneA county prosecutor says a Utah cop was not justified in shooting a woman wielding a screwdriver. But an area use of force board disagrees, and the officer, who remains employed, has simply been placed on paid "administrative leave."

The shooting incident occurred in June after Enoch City Police Cpl. Jeremy Dunn responded to an alleged truck stop burglary in Parowan, Utah. Body camera footage shows Dunn arriving at the scene to join Parowan City Police Sgt. Mike Berg, who was already holding two suspects at gunpoint—an unarmed man and a woman with a screwdriver.

Both officers tried to get the woman, identified as Ivonne Casimiro, to drop the screwdriver, but she refuses. At one point in the video, Casimiro tells the officers to "go ahead and blow." Dunn, meanwhile, tells her: "You come at me with that knife, I guarantee I'll smoke ya."

At one point, Dunn references a 2012 incident, also involving Berg, in which he shot a man with a knife who was approaching both officers. "I can take her out like last time. Do you want me to take her out like last time?" Dunn asks Berg.

Later, Dunn attempts to tase Casimiro but fails. After Casimiro appears to take a step toward him, he fires three shots with his gun, hitting her in the leg twice.

Dunn clearly overreacted, says County Attorney Scott F. Garrett. "While the suspect was armed with a screwdriver and had been non-compliant by failing to follow officer's commands, including multiple commands to drop the screwdriver, it cannot be objectively stated that the officers or anyone else were in danger of death or serious bodily injury at the exact moment that lethal force was used," he wrote in a letter to the Enoch Police Department. "From the video and Sergeant Berg's testimony, it appears that the situation was manageable at the time Corporal Dunn arrived and it would have seemed reasonable for officers to continue de-escalation tactics until the situation could be more fully contained. Corporal Dunn was only on scene for three minutes before firing shots."

But Garrett declined to press criminal charges, noting that "the State would not be able to prove the requisite criminal intent."

The Enoch City Use of Force Review Board came to an entirely different conclusion. In a report released yesterday, the board claimed "Dunn's actions were within department policy" and that he used "reasonable force" to deal with an "immediate and severe threat."

In the board's view, "After resisting Sergeant Berg's attempt to detain her, and being subjected to two ineffective TASER deployments, and after the female raised the screwdriver in her right hand across her body appearing to load for an attempt to strike, taking a step forward with her left leg while her arm was cocked, Corporal Dunn chose to incapacitate the female suspect using lethal force in a non-lethal manner."

According to the city board, the only thing Dunn did wrong was to aim for Casimiro's legs instead of her extremities. But he was cleared of wrongdoing there as well, as the board accepted his argument that he was trying to incapacitate her with non-lethal force.

Dunn "is currently on administrative leave until a determination can be made in compliance with and by all relevant agencies," the city board says. His short-term fate isn't particularly surprising, given that getting paid not to work is a pretty common "consequence" for officers involved in controversial shootings.

Casimiro was taken to the hospital and later booked on multiple charges, including vehicle burglary and assault of a police officer.

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube via The Salt Lake Tribune

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    A county prosecutor says a Utah cop was not justified in shooting a woman wielding a screwdriver. But an area use of force board disagrees, and the officer, who remains employed, has simply been placed on paid "administrative leave."

    The board takes precedence!

  • Restoras||

    The officers got home safe, right? So what's the problem?

  • MarkJ-||

    The problem is that "getting home safe" is not their job. Officers are paid to take risks.

    If they are uncomfortable with that, they should take another job.

    There is no such thing as a "blue life", Blue is a job.

  • sarcasmic||

    OBEY

  • Brendan||

    Am I alone in thinking this was more right than wrong of a shooting?

    Drop the fucking screwdriver.
    If they are tasing you, shooting you is the next step if it doesn't work.
    Please, drop the fucking screwdriver.

    Making these kinds of incidents into police brutality examples only hurts the efforts to reform the police.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Not exactly Tamir Rice here.

  • ||

    I agree. Not even a Laquan McDonald.

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    Oh come on. If you can't disarm someone with a screwdriver without shooting them, you shouldn't be on the police force. She wasn't a friggin' ninja, and she wasn't holding it to someone's throat.

    it would have seemed reasonable for officers to continue de-escalation tactics until the situation could be more fully contained. Corporal Dunn was only on scene for three minutes before firing shots."

    Except for that word "seemed", That's a bingo. And from what he said he appeared *very* eager to "take her out". He's a fucking murderer and enjoys it. Needs to be in jail.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Oh come on. If you can't disarm someone with a screwdriver without shooting them, you shouldn't be on the police force. She wasn't a friggin' ninja, and she wasn't holding it to someone's throat.

    Nope, there's no defense whatsoever against a knife (or knife like object). None. Zero. Zilch. /sarc

    Disclaimer: 90% of the videos you see on youtube if you just search for defense against a knife are bullshit, including some of things in the video linked above (although it's better than some I've seen - holy hell people are gonna get themselves killed if they try some of the shit I've seen). I just linked to it as an example to show that yes, there are in fact several things one can do against an attacker armed w/ a knife (or screwdriver) besides shoot them.

  • Brandybuck||

    What if I'm attacked by a someone holding a bunch of raspberries?

  • ||

    I just linked to it as an example to show that yes, there are in fact several things one can do against an attacker armed w/ a knife (or screwdriver) besides shoot them.

    The best knife fighter I ever interacted with said that if you expect to do a lot of knife fighting, expect to get cut and/or stabbed. The difference in element of surprise, reaction times, hand-eye coordination, strength, situational unpredictability, etc. means the difference in training between a knife fighter and a random person wielding a knife ensures the *victory* of the knife fighter the majority of the time. You should only expect to walk away from a knife fight unscathed if the person is otherwise incapacitated.

    I can't reconcile that with a sustainable, well-trained police force. You're either going to get morons who are willing to get stabbed and beaten, highly trained soldiers who have no idea about and/or don't give two shits about ethics or the law, or both. Or you're going to make some compromises and allow some people to shoot knife-wielding belligerents in the leg (or let knife-wielding belligerents go free).

  • Restoras||

    Is a screwdriver a potentially deadly weapon? Yes - if you are unarmed. Which the cop wasn't. He also had a partner with him so the woman was outnumbered. Men are also significantly stronger than women - so there's another significant advantage.

    Why not, I don't know, just wait an 'assailant' like this out, especially a non-violent one incapable of inflicting harm on the cops? Eventually she'll get tired, hungry, thirsty, have to pee, etc an then officers Fuckface and Dickhead can just casually take her into custody? Why do so many of these encounters HAVE to be resolved with gunfire? It couldn't be that some of these 'public servants' get off on it, could it?

  • Cathy L||

    This

  • Frank White||

    What's the worse that could have happened? He loses an eye? Part of the job.

  • creech||

    For the same reason, I guess, that SWAT teams have to serve outstanding warrants instead of just grabbing the suspect next time xe leaves the house. Death in Philly this week where a homeowner shot a SWAT cop who he thought was breaking to his house. Cops shot him to death. And the raid target wasn't even home at the time.

  • Restoras||

    SWAT seems to enjoy playing soldier...as long as it's against an unarmed target.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    For the same reason, I guess, that SWAT teams have to serve outstanding warrants instead of just grabbing the suspect next time xe leaves the house.

    Gotta justify their budget somehow. If they only used SWAT in extreme circumstances that truly warranted their involvement, they'd almost never be used and then people might start to question why even a small town police force needs a SWAT team and an MRAP and someone might get the bright idea that a lot of money could be saved. IOW, the same reason most government employees do what they do: to protect their phony baloney jobs.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Men are also significantly stronger than women - so there's another significant advantage.

    Problematic!

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Totally racist.

  • sarcasmic||

    They could have gotten fired for attempting to disarm her. That is putting themselves in harm's way, and police are supposed to put officer safety first.

  • Juice||

    Yep, they'll be disciplined or fired for NOT shooting someone.

  • MarkJ-||

    If they are being trained that way,, I think we see a large part of the problem we have with law enforcement.

  • Hank Phillips||

    They are trained to gobble donuts instead of practice martial arts with simple weapons like nunchaku or a nightstick. Besides, BOTH of the political parties in that mystical satrapy worship the initiation of deadly force. No surprise then that whenever one of their lardasses murders someone they shake his hand, pin a medal on his chest and say "you're our boy!"

  • ||

    Why not, I don't know, just wait an 'assailant' like this out, especially a non-violent one incapable of inflicting harm on the cops?

    Is whatever he's not guilty of, a moral/criminal offense or just an issue of differing opinions regarding pragmatism?

    I don't disagree that it turned out to be 2 against 1 but the guy standing next to her seemed to very much be 'with' her and simultaneously unphased by having a gun pointed at him for the same reason.

  • ||

    Why not, I don't know, just wait an 'assailant' like this out, especially a non-violent one incapable of inflicting harm on the cops?

    Also, have you ever waited anyone out on anything ever? It's hardly a de-escalation tactic. Especially if one side has radio and the other has cell phones.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Why not, I don't know, just wait an 'assailant' like this out

    Do you have any idea how long that would've taken? These Heroes in Blue have better things to do with their time, like eating donuts, sleeping on the side of the road, or shooting random dogs.

  • Ben of Houston||

    An officer is under no legal or moral obligation to allow himself to be stabbed. He might be able to disarm her without resorting to lethal force.However, going into melee with an armed opponent always carries a significant risk of permanent injury.

    I definitely am concerned about how these punks seem eager to shoot someone. they could almost certainly have come out of this with everyone unscathed.

    HOWEVER, that being said, this is hardly the worst case. She had several chances to drop her weapon, she was in communication with officers, and she had been tazed twice.

    If I was in charge, I would punish the officers for allowing the situation to escalate. Perhaps terminating them would be in order. However, I cannot see any rational basis for this to be a criminal case.

  • ||

    He might be able to disarm her without resorting to lethal force.

    Unlike the average pot-bellied hippo of an urban thug that normally perpetrates crimes in this vein, Jeremy Dunn appears to be at least modestly fit and, more importantly, a practiced and well-trained shooter. He employed non-lethal force bringing about a non-lethal outcome.

    Several people mentioned above about engaging her with the screwdriver. I don't know how differently I see the outcome, morally, legally, or objectively if he had engaged her and she wound up with the screwdriver stuck in her leg.

  • Saorla||

    A gun is ALWAYS lethal force. There's no such thing as shooting to incapacitate, as you can easily hit an artery and bleed to death within minutes. It's only sheer dumb luck that the woman survived.

  • MichaelL||

    How about a nightstick to the shin? It would likely be debilitating. It can be wielded in a way to still be several feet from the assailant, if properly don. My cousin put a stick through the leg of a guy by throwing it at him...The stick broke!

  • buybuydandavis||

    "Is a screwdriver a potentially deadly weapon? Yes - if you are unarmed. "

    A weapon you don't use and the assailant doesn't respect doesn't do anything for you.

  • buybuydandavis||

    He escalated to lethal force a little sooner than necessary, but I don't see this as particularly egregious.

    Having the other guy there, equally not obeying orders, complicated matters.

  • The Last American Hero||

    I know they don't like hard liquor in Utah, but having a vodka and orange juice shouldn't result in getting shot.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    What if the vodka was a domestic brand?

  • Don't look at me.||

    That's just gross.

  • Fancylad||

    "Dunn's actions were within department policy"

    And therein lies the real problem, the militaristic approach to policing in North America.
    The officer's actions may have been within department guidelines, but those guidelines are geared towards acting like an occupation force, not community policing. His reaction to the screwdriver is almost what you'd expect from soldiers patrolling conquered territory.
    I find it hard to fault the officer for behaving like he was trained, it's the idiots who crafted those training manuals, guidelines and policies that should be held answerable.

  • Restoras||

    Except, the cop still has agency, and presumably the ability to discern when deadly force is necessary versus when it isn't. Blaming it on his 'training', or effectively, just following orders, let's him off the hook for his actions - and I bet he knew it at the time.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Blaming it on his 'training', or effectively, just following orders, let's him off the hook for his actions - and I bet he knew it at the time.

    ^This^

    And he absolutely knew it at the time. Hell, it sounds like he knew from prior experience that the worst he might get as "punishment" is a paid vacation:

    "I can take her out like last time. Do you want me to take her out like last time?" Dunn asks Berg.
  • Paloma||

    That's the policy that I blame police violence on. The utter impunity is what leads to their arrogance that they are heroes who are superior to the general public. Penalties for police shootings and abuse should be much, much harsher. Jail time for criminal assaults and shootings, obviously. But loss of job AND pension for questionable civilian deaths.

    Losing your pension would be a great incentive for "waiting it out" or even taking a chance of getting stabbed in the arm with a screwdriver.

  • Fancylad||

    But they're all unhinged cowboys because that's what the policy calls for.

  • Dillinger||

    the policy fails to police the police.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

  • ||

    I know I may be out of left field on this but was the screwdriver used in the burglary?

  • Uncle Jay||

    The woman would still be alive if screwdrivers were outlawed.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Corporal Dunn was only on scene for three minutes before firing shots.

    Look, that's three minutes that he could have been sitting in his cruiser jerking off instead of having to deal with this woman's bullshit. Nobody's got time for this shit. Good shoot. /sarc

  • Jerryskids||

    Later, Dunn attempts to tase Casimiro but fails

    What, they ain't got no 11-year old girls in Utah they can practice on?

    Yeah, this isn't the worst case of police over-reaction, but there's a number of red flags here. The guy shot after only a few minutes on the scene and this is the second time it's happened? The "Use of Force Board" defends the cop against the prosecutor? They cite the ever-popular "procedures were followed" addendum to the Constitution that overrides all the rest of it? Trigger-happy cop, citizens review board stacked with badge-lickers, special rules for special people, it's the regular Wednesday blue plate special down at Mom's.

  • Agammamon||

    it appears that the situation was manageable at the time Corporal Dunn arrived and it would have seemed reasonable for officers to continue de-escalation tactics until the situation could be more fully contained. Corporal Dunn was only on scene for three minutes before firing shots."

    One of the big problems cops have is that they don't have any real chain of command out on the street. Just a bunch of cowboys running around by themselves so when they get in a situation where multiple cops are responding there's no one in charge of the scene.

    This guy shows up to a scene a *sergeant* has contained (even if not controlled) and three minutes later he's shooting. Why? Because the sergeant didn't take control. Just let him do his thing.

  • Paloma||

    So it took them, what, 30 seconds to tase the first time? And then another minute to tase again?

  • majil||

    The woman was not in good standing with the polygamists that run that State .
    Cops must be allowed to shoot at least one person a year in Utah lest they go home at night and beat one of their wives due to pent up steroid reactions .

  • Rossami||

    Kinda makes you wonder who sits on the Enoch City Use of Force Review Board. Am I too cynical if I suspect that it's loaded with police union thugs?

  • shortviking||

    This where I would be okay with the feds stepping in with civil rights charges against the psychopath cop since local government fails to prosecute.

  • Fats of Fury||

    They shoulda hit her with a shot of Galliano and made her a wallbanger.

  • Jr12||

    Let's see, according to Reason, predicting the "exact moment" a screw driver will plunge into one's eye, depends on who has screw driver and who has a gun. So justice is decided by which people had the inferior weapon. Ok, got it.

  • tommhan||

    This is not controversial to me. Perp approaches with weapon, bang.

  • LarryA||

    the only thing Dunn did wrong was to aim for Casimiro's legs instead of her extremities

    Aren't "legs" two of the extremities? Perhaps you meant center of mass or core?

  • MichaelL||

    I am sure they will get good reimbursement for the medical care she receives!...(;-P

  • Saorla||

    "Corporal Dunn chose to incapacitate the female suspect using lethal force in a non-lethal manner."

    This statement is beyond moronic. It's called LETHAL force for a reason--there is no such thing as shooting to incapacitate. Even if you aim for someone's extremities, you can easily pierce an artery and have someone bleed to death within minutes. Both the officer and whatever ignoramus wrote this statement should be fired.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Salt Lake City officer Officer Bron Cruz murdered unarmed Dillon Taylor in cold blood with 2 shots in the back and got a raise a year ago, so this fits the pattern. Look at the dedication of the Republican platform and you'll find First Responders™ with guns, not women with screwdrivers.

  • ||

    There is no way to know how dangerous Casimiro's weapon was. Perhaps it was a sonic screwdriver.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online