Newly released video draws attention to fatal police shooting in Utah

The victim was shot multiple times, including with his own gun.

April 2, 2017, 4:16 PM

— -- Nicolas Sanchez was killed in an encounter with police on Feb. 21 outside a convenience store in Roy City, Utah, according to lawyers for the Roy City police department.

The Weber County Sheriff's Department and the county Attorney's Office are investigating the incident. ABC News reached out to the two offices for comment about the police video but did not immediately receive a reply. The two officers involved are on paid administrative leave.

At the start of the video, Sanchez, of Layton, Utah, is seen standing in front of a convenience store when he is approached by officers who ask him to come toward them to talk.

The officers, whose identities have not been released, were responding to a call from a clerk at the store who reported seeing Sanchez loitering and "acting suspiciously," according to a Roy City statement. Sanchez had left his car running in the store parking lot while he was at the store, the statement said.

Heather White, an attorney for the police department, told ABC News in an interview Sunday that there had been a number of violent incidents at gas stations in the area, which she said gave the convenience store clerk reason to be concerned about Sanchez. White said police released the video Friday in the interests of transparency.

In the video, one of the officers says to Sanchez, "Come over here now and talk to me, let’s go."Sanchez stays where he is outside the store's glass doors, saying: "Really?"

The same officer says, "Or do you want to just be arrested right now, it’s your choice."

Sanchez shortly after appears to assent to the request and steps in the officers' general direction.

As he does so, however, he appears to put his hand around the area of his pants, and one of the officers asks him to show his hands.

Sanchez slightly lifts up his shirt, and it appears in the video that he has a firearm around the area of his waistline.

The officers warn him not to touch the gun.

The video shows the situation escalating rapidly from there: Sanchez turns away, and an officer lunges for him, leading to a brief chase on foot. An officer tackles Sanchez, and what happens next is not clear from the footage. Multiple gunshots are heard echoing into the night.

White told ABC News that both officers ultimately shot Sanchez in the encounter, and that one of them shot Sanchez with his own weapon.

"Police are authorized to use any means necessary in such a situation including deadly force," the attorney said. "It's not limited to another person's gun, they can use a tire iron if they have to."

White said in Friday's press statement that one officer who followed Sanchez "fought to wrestle the gun" from him and that "the second officer, standing back from the scuffle, saw Sanchez’s hands go to his waistband."

“At one point, the officer trying to wrestle the gun from Sanchez’ hands saw the gun pointing at his face,” the statement said. "It was clear to the second officer that his partner’s life was in imminent danger, and he began firing at Sanchez ... The first officer was then able to take Sanchez's gun and shot him with it."

The press statement on Friday also said that Sanchez had "an extensive criminal history," and that as a convicted felon, he was not legally allowed to be in possession of a firearm.

The release of the video brings no comfort to Annette Olsen of Layton, Utah, who said she is a friend of Sanchez's and who spoke to ABC News on Sunday.

Olsen, 60, said she had been living with Sanchez for about three years at the time of his death. She described herself as a mother figure to Sanchez, a man who she said lost his mother as a child.

"I considered him to be my son, and he considered me to be his mom," Olsen told ABC News. "I could only watch the very first [moments of the video] and haven't been able to watch it again cause I just want to go throw myself on top of him to protect him," Olsen said.

Olsen said Sanchez had spent time in prison but had since turned his life around and was working as a forklift operator. She added that Sanchez would go out of his way to help other people and that on the night he died he had gone to the convenience store to meet a friend.

"He was there to see a girlfriend," Olsen said. "He never threatened anyone with a gun. It was personal protection, and he would not have pulled it on anyone."

"I'm positive that Nick did not pull the gun on them," Olsen said of his encounter with the officers.

ABC News asked the police department attorney, White, about Olsen's contention that Sanchez was at the store to meet his girlfriend.

"That may have been the case," White said. "But his behavior at the scene was consistent with someone who was about to commit a robbery."

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