Salt Lake City police fatally shot a man seconds after using a stun gun, bodycam shows show

Penisimani Halai, 41, was on probation when the shooting took place.

(Screenshot via YouTube) A Salt Lake City police officer points a gun at 41-year-old Penisimani Halai following a police pursuit on January 13, 2022. After the shooting, Halai was taken to a hospital where he later died.

Body camera footage released by Salt Lake City police on Wednesday shows a man who broke into a home early Jan. 13 to try to evade pursuit by officers before police fatally shot him.

About 40 minutes before the fatal police shooting, officers from the SLCPD gang unit were investigating two wanted fugitives with warrants early Jan. 13 when they found them in a car near 1300 West Araphoe Avenue in Poplar Grove at around 2:30 a.m

Officers called for backup, and about 20 minutes later she and patrol officers, guns drawn, approached the car and ordered the couple inside to get out. The two failed to comply with the police and instead drove off to escape.

The driver, later identified as 41-year-old Penisimani Halai, drove through a fence and then through a yard onto 1300 West, which police said prompted a pursuit.

Officers used an air release device to stop the vehicle, but Halai continued driving and struck two squad cars during the pursuit, police said. The footage also showed Halai driving through front yards and onto sidewalks to avoid an officer who had his squad car blocking a road.

The pursuit ended when Halai crashed head-on into an empty, parked truck near 500 North Star Crest Drive at approximately 3:08 a.m. shouted at him, “show us your hands”.

The passenger remained in the car, where police safely arrested him, officials said.

Near the house, footage can be heard of police repeatedly ordering Halai to get on the ground, to which the footage says he responds with something that sounds like “f—you.”

At the time, “an item appears to be in Halais’ waistband,” police said Wednesday in a press release accompanying the footage released. Police also said an officer shouted that Halai had something in his hands, but that could not be heard or seen clearly in the footage.

An officer then gets close enough to use a stun gun on Halai. above Four seconds later, officers fired two shots at Halai.

Police said in a press release that the stun gun “did not immobilize Halai.” Body cam footage shows Halai limping away after being deployed and when he is subsequently shot at, footage shows Halai smashing a window and entering the house he was approaching.

It’s unclear if Halai had any connection to the house he entered. “There is currently no information to suggest that Halai had any reason or right to attempt to enter the home,” police said in a release.

As officers approached the broken window, Halai was heard saying “F—you” repeatedly while police tried to move the blinds to get a better look inside.

“We have to get in there,” says an officer in the footage.

Officers then shouted three times for Halai to stop and show them his hands before an officer fired three shots at the house. Police then entered the home and found Halai with two people who live there, but investigators don’t believe Halai knew the residents.

Officers found a gun in Halais’s possession when they arrested him around 3:10 a.m., although officials did not identify the gun in Wednesday’s news release. Police then treated him when they called in paramedics who took Halai to a hospital, where he later died on January 21.

Authorities did not say how many times Halai was shot. The results of the autopsy are still pending at the regional court, the police said in a press release. No officers were injured.

At the time of the shooting, Halai was on probation for two felony counts of possessing a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, a felony reported in 2019.

Halai was paroled four times during his sentence, court documents say, and each time he was later arrested custody by warrant. His last warrant for violating his probation was filed in October 2022.

Officers are investigating the shooting in accordance with the critical incident protocol in which officers are involved, and an administrative inquiry is also being conducted by the SLCPD internal affairs unit, police said.

The four officers involved in the shooting are on paid leave pending further investigation, police said.

This was the second Utah police shooting this year, according to a Salt Lake Tribune database. The first happened Jan. 10 in Saratoga Springs, where officers shot and killed a 50-year-old man who led them to a vehicle chase before he ran off and allegedly tried to break into a home with a gun. Salt Lake City police fatally shot a man seconds after using a stun gun, bodycam shows show

Justin Scaccy

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