A Utah sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a 28-year-old Army sergeant this weekend while responding to a medical emergency call.
According to Tooele County Sheriff Frank Park, police were called to Purple Heart recipient Nicholas McGehee’s home early Sunday morning after the Iraq war veteran cut his foot on a piece of broken glass.
“The information we had is that a gentleman had cut himself rather severely,” Park told Good4Utah News.
Shortly after a sheriff’s deputy and highway patrol officer arrived on scene, neighbors reported hearing a succession of gunshots.
“They were ‘boom, boom, boom, boom!’” neighbor Candice Pratt said. “I hurried and called 911, and she asked where we were. I gave her our address, and I said, ‘We just heard four shots.’”
Initial reports from investigators state that McGehee was holding a firearm inside his home when officers approached, causing them to assume that McGehee’s wife could be in some sort of danger.
After evacuating the woman from her home, police say McGehee himself walked out onto the front porch with gun in hand.
McGehee would be declared dead on the scene soon after.
“The deputy told him two or three times to put the gun down, the gentleman pointed the gun at the deputy, and at that time, the deputy turned fire, shooting the individual,” Park said. “He may have been intoxicated, but that’s still under investigation. We don’t know for sure.”
While the shooting may have been justified, neighbors who knew McGehee say the claim is shocking, asserting that he never once came off as troubled.
Police admitted that the deputy was wearing a body camera at the time of the incident but had not activated it prior to arriving on scene. With federal training teaching police to ludicrously anticipate IED attacks from veterans, questions remain as to why police responded to a medical call as opposed to paramedics.
The department has since placed the deputy on administrative leave for the duration of the investigation.