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Westlake Legal Group > BRADY McCOMBS

Mother says Utah officer pulled gun on her black son

Westlake Legal Group og-fox-news Mother says Utah officer pulled gun on her black son fox-news/us/crime fnc/us fnc ecf35539-eab2-5a4f-ac5f-cbc7a8fd662f BRADY McCOMBS Associated Press article

A mother wants an independent investigation Friday after she says a Utah police officer pointed a gun at her 10-year-old son’s head in what she calls a racially motivated incident.

Jerri Hrubes said at a news conference that she saw a white Woods Cross police officer pull his gun on her son, DJ Hrubes, who is black, while he was playing on his grandmother’s front lawn Thursday north of Salt Lake City. She said her son didn’t have any toys or objects in his hand.

The officer told DJ to put his hands in the air and get on the ground, she said. When DJ asked the officer if he did something wrong, the officer told DJ not to ask questions.

Jerri Hrubes said she raced outside of the house and screamed at the officer, “What are you doing? This is a 10-year-old child.”

She says the officer didn’t respond and got in his car and left.

Woods Cross police didn’t immediately return messages Friday about the events.

Police Lt. Adam Osoro told The Salt Lake Tribune Thursday that the officer mistook the boy for a potential suspect during a pursuit of two armed suspects. Osoro the officer pulled out his gun after the child ran to the side of the house. After getting closer, the officer realized Hrubes was not involved in the incident and left, Osoro said.

Osoro said the officer acted appropriately under the circumstances.

Hrubes said she called dispatch right away to complain about the officer’s actions, and the officer returned to the house later in the day. She said he apologized and DJ hugged him and said it was OK. She said her son doesn’t “have a mean bone in his body” and is mentally delayed and has issues with his sight.

She teared up recounting the encounter and said she’s thankful she taught DJ growing up to heed the commands of officers.

“I support all police officers. I see good in them,” Hrubes said. “But, I do not support putting a child of 10-years-old at gunpoint with no explanation. . . Does he look like he’s 30? Does he look like he’s 18? No.”

She said she doesn’t necessarily want the officer fired, but wants an outside review. She appeared alongside attorney Karra Porter at the news conference, but said she’s not considering any legal action at this time.

Hrubes, who is from Montana, said she was visiting her mother in the town where she grew up: West Bountiful, a suburb of Salt Lake City. She said the incident changes how she feels in Utah, a state where African Americans account for just 1.4% of the state’s population, according to U.S. Census figures.

“As a white mother to a black son, I don’t feel safe in West Bountiful anymore,” Hrubes said. “That changed after yesterday. I do not feel that he is safe. He has not left my sight. It just doesn’t feel like it used to.”

____

Associated Press writer Morgan Smith contributed to this story.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-e460a5b6704d48a5a07dc07a21888ed3 Mother says Utah officer pulled gun on her black son fox-news/us/crime fnc/us fnc ecf35539-eab2-5a4f-ac5f-cbc7a8fd662f BRADY McCOMBS Associated Press article   Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-e460a5b6704d48a5a07dc07a21888ed3 Mother says Utah officer pulled gun on her black son fox-news/us/crime fnc/us fnc ecf35539-eab2-5a4f-ac5f-cbc7a8fd662f BRADY McCOMBS Associated Press article

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Lawsuit: Bus driver was sick, tired before fatal Utah crash

Westlake Legal Group og-fox-news Lawsuit: Bus driver was sick, tired before fatal Utah crash fox-news/us/disasters/transportation fnc/us fnc c96f9e92-f598-588d-832b-a3aa4b180b74 BRADY McCOMBS Associated Press article

A Greyhound driver who authorities say fell asleep before the bus careened off a road in the Utah desert two years ago was tired, sick and should never have been behind the wheel, according to a new lawsuit over the crash that killed one person and injured 12 others.

Bus driver Charles E. Saunders fell asleep after taking cold medicine and never hit the brakes as the bus flew off a highway and crashed into a canyon wall about 300 miles (483 kilometers) south of Salt Lake City, the lawsuit says. Michael Edwards of Georgia filed the claim Monday in a court in Nevada, where Saunders lives.

Edwards said he suffered a traumatic brain injury and fractures to his face, elbow, ribs and tibia and has racked up more than $500,000 in medical expenses. He is seeking damages to cover those costs as well as other economic losses from his injuries.

He asserts that Saunders requested a replacement driver for the route from Green River, Utah, to Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve 2017 because he was feeling sick but that Greyhound didn’t send one.

Greyhound spokeswoman Crystal Booker declined to comment, citing company policy during lawsuits. It’s unknown if Saunders has an attorney, and no listed phone number could be found for him.

The lawsuit says Saunders had fallen asleep about 45 minutes before the crash and a passenger woke him up. Shortly before the crash, a passenger yelled at Saunders: “Driver! You’re sleeping!”

The bus flew off Interstate 70 and over a small ravine, hit a canyon wall and spun 180 degrees, the lawsuit says. While some passengers crawled out and tried to get help, others were pinned in the bus and couldn’t move, Edwards’ lawyers said.

Summer Pinzon, 13, of Azusa, California, was killed in the late-night crash.

Utah police said after the crash that they were investigating it as a possible negligent homicide case after finding cold medicine at the scene and getting reports that the driver was slumped over the wheel. Online Utah court records indicate Saunders was not charged with a crime.

A phone message left with Emery County Attorney Mike Olsen wasn’t immediately returned.

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Utah man fires at police in 6-hour standoff at Burger King

Westlake Legal Group og-fox-news Utah man fires at police in 6-hour standoff at Burger King fox-news/us/crime fnc/us fnc ede5ddfd-2dcd-5931-9bfe-e4e439dc53ca BRADY McCOMBS Associated Press article

A Utah man who was wanted in a weekend shooting barricaded himself inside a Salt Lake City area fast-food restaurant and fired several times at police during an overnight standoff that ended when the man surrendered after officers fired tear gas into the restaurant, authorities said Wednesday.

Joshua B. Williams, 36, was arrested early Wednesday after firing about 10 rounds at officers during a 6-hour standoff at a Burger King in Magna, Utah, said Unified Police Sgt. Melody Gray.

No officers, restaurant employees or customers were injured, she said.

Officers had been searching for Williams since Saturday when he was suspected of firing several shots at a woman who was letting him stay in her house, said Lt. Dan Bartlett of the suburban Cottonwood Heights Police Department.

Bartlett said officers were in Magna looking for Williams on Tuesday night when Burger King employees called police to report a man had locked himself in the bathroom and was refusing to leave at closing time.

When police arrived, Williams pointed a gun at the officers, Gray said. Officers evacuated along with the restaurant employees, set up a perimeter and called in the SWAT team. That team filled the restaurant with gas several times until at about 5:30 a.m. Williams finally told a robot sent inside the restaurant he wanted out.

Magna is about 14 miles (22 kilometers) from Salt Lake City.

Williams is expected to be booked on several charges related to the standoff and unlawful detention and aggravated assault in the Saturday incident, Gray and Bartlett said.

It was not immediately known if Williams has a lawyer to speak on his behalf.

Williams was put on probation in November after pleading guilty to felony possession of a firearm by a restricted person, said Utah Corrections spokesman Liam Truchard.

That same month, Williams also pleaded to two counts of possession of a controlled substance, online Utah court records show. In 2011, Williams pleaded guilty to use of a dangerous weapon in a fight, and was given two years’ probation.

___

This story has corrected the sentence Williams received in 2018 case to probation.

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Students at Mormon-owned BYU urge honor code compassion

Westlake Legal Group og-fox-news Students at Mormon-owned BYU urge honor code compassion fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/education/college fox-news/us/crime fnc/us fnc BRADY McCOMBS Associated Press article 1171de4a-2c81-5f27-a513-0f412bbe6b25

Several hundred students at Mormon-owned Brigham Young University chanted “If God forgives me, why can’t you?” during a protest Friday aimed at pushing college officials to be more compassionate with punishments for violators of rules banning things that are commonplace at other colleges — including drinking, premarital sex, beards and piercings.

The demonstration was part of an informal campaign that started with an Instagram account created earlier this year by a former student who had a negative experience with the college’s honor code office. That opened a flood of accounts from other students claiming they had negative experiences over transgressions and punishments.

People held signs such as “Stop playing God” and “Practice compassion” on the campus in Provo, south of Salt Lake City. Riley Mabry, a 21-year-old student from Memphis, Tennessee, carried one with a picture of Jesus and the words, “The only big brother I need watching me.”

“We shouldn’t live in fear of messing up,” said Mabry, who is bisexual. “That doesn’t align with the teachings of the church. One of the biggest tenets is that we are capable of repentance and forgiveness.”

Some students want parts of the honor code changed and others want punishments reduced, saying they agreed to adhere to the code when choosing to attend BYU, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Nearly all students are members of the faith. Current punishments for violations range from discipline to suspension and expulsion.

The “Restore Honor” group that organized the protest wants the honor code office to be more forgiving and less judgmental and more transparent, said freshman Grant Frazier.

He said students who are investigated and punished by the honor code office often end up unhappy with BYU and have their spiritual growth stunted.

“I love BYU and I love the gospel,” said Frazier. “But we just think that our university can be doing a little better.”

This is the latest unwanted attention for BYU’s honor code, which was criticized in 2016 by female students who spoke out against the school opening honor-code investigations of students who reported sexual abuses to police. The college changed the policy to ensure that students who report sexual abuse would no longer be investigated for honor code violations.

University spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said Friday in a statement that BYU wants all students to have a positive experience and are monitoring the conversations on social media and arranging meetings with students and the director of the honor code office, Kevin Utt.

The university posted a Q&A with Utt earlier this week in which he said the rules exist to “protect the interests of the community and guide those whose behavior is not in accordance with its policies.” He said 10-15 students are expelled due to honor code violations each year with the rest remaining enrolled. The college has about 33,000 students.

Actions taken against violators are “intended to develop students’ moral and ethical decision-making,” Utt said. There is no firm set of punishments, he said, because decisions are based on context, motivation, intent and openness.

BYU graduate Brayden Smith said he was suspended after he turned himself for something that happened with his girlfriend, declining to provide specifics because he did not feel comfortable doing so. Smith said he was left spiritually damaged after he was required to perform 35 hours of community service each month and was banned from using social media or dating apps.

“There’s gigantic dark mark on my collegiate experience,” said Smith.

The code has a section dedicated to “homosexual behavior,” which echoes the religion’s belief that being gay isn’t a sin, but engaging in same-sex intimacy is. It includes a clause stating that “all forms of physical intimacy that that give expression to homosexual feelings” is prohibited.

Amy Jacobs, a lesbian student, said the rules should be the same for gay and heterosexual couples, who are allowed to hold hands and kiss.

The senior history major said she has lived in fear that someone would report her for an innocuous hug with another woman.

She held a sign that said, “Report me, I’m gay,” a sarcastic nod to a common complaint among students that a culture of tattle-telling exists at the university since the honor code accepts reports of violations from other students.

“I’m afraid of the honor code office,” said Jacobs, 21, of Kaysville, Utah. “I kind of hate myself here.”

Jacobs said she has thought about transferring to another college but stayed at BYU because she had dedicated so much time to her studies toward a history degree and had good mentoring professors.

“BYU is a good education and I want to love it, but I just don’t,” said Jacobs, who will graduate this spring. “If I stayed a BYU any longer, it would kill me.”

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Sundance Film Festival co-founder charged with sex abuse

Westlake Legal Group sundance-film-festival-co-founder-charged-with-sex-abuse Sundance Film Festival co-founder charged with sex abuse fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/crime fnc/us fnc BRADY McCOMBS Associated Press article 7f669ef4-614e-5fc1-bbcb-badbd6343532
Westlake Legal Group og-fox-news Sundance Film Festival co-founder charged with sex abuse fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/crime fnc/us fnc BRADY McCOMBS Associated Press article 7f669ef4-614e-5fc1-bbcb-badbd6343532

A Utah filmmaker who co-founded the Sundance Film Festival and produced an Oscar-winning movie in the mid-1980s has been charged with sexual abuse of a young girl.

Sterling Van Wagenen, 71, is accused of inappropriately touching a girl on two occasions between 2013 and 2015, according to a probable cause statement filed with the charges on April 4. The alleged abuse occurred in two northern Utah cities when the girl was between the ages of 7 and 9, online court records show.

Van Wagenen’s attorney, Steven Shapiro, declined to comment. Van Wagenen didn’t return an email and phone call. He has not yet entered a plea to one count of felony sexual abuse of a child.

Van Wagenen co-founded a Utah film festival that came to be known as Sundance Film Festival with Robert Redford and was the Sundance Institute’s founding executive director, according to his biography page on the University of Utah website, where he was a part-time instructor until his recent resignation.

Sundance Film Festival officials didn’t immediately return an email and phone message seeking comment. His affiliation with the organization ended in 1993 when he left the advisory board, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Van Wagenen, who posted $75,000 bail, is scheduled to be in court on May 2 for a scheduling hearing. The case was reported to police by child protective services after the girl told her parents about the alleged abuse.

Van Wagenen produced the 1985 film, “The Trip to Bountiful,” a story of an elderly woman who longs to return to her home that earned the late actress Geraldine Page an Oscar for her starring performance.

He also directed the 1992 film “Alan & Naomi” about the trauma of the Holocaust on children and was a producer of the 1991 move “Convicts” starring Robert Duvall and James Earl Jones.

More recently, he was a director of the 2009 documentary called “Learning from the Light: The Vision of I.M. Pei” about a well-known architect and an executive director of the 2018 historical tale “Jane and Emma” about a black woman’s friendship with the wife of Joseph Smith, the founder of The Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints.

Van Wagenen resigned from his part-time instructor position at the University of Utah’s Film and Media Arts Department on Feb. 15 after being put on administrative leave on Feb. 5, university spokesman Chris Nelson said. He said the university can’t provide any more details other than to say he had worked at the university since October 2012.

Van Wagenen’s resignation came after a man came forward to accuse Van Wagenen of molesting him as a boy in 1993. No charges have been filed in that case, which was made public by a website that serves as a watchdog for The Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints, widely known as the Mormon church.

The church-owned Brigham Young University in Utah has employed Van Wagenen as an instructor and director of content for its broadcasting arm. University spokeswoman Carri Jenkins didn’t immediately return an email and phone message seeking comment.

Van Wagenen also periodically worked for the church as a producer and director for many years on a variety of projects, church spokesman Eric Hawkins said. The church wasn’t aware of any of Van Wagenen’s alleged behaviors until recently and reported them to authorities, Hawkins said. He declined to say if Van Wagenen has been kicked out of the faith, citing church policy to keep personal matters private.

The church considers child abuse to be among the most serious sins and that anyone who commits the act should be held accountable, Hawkins said.

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Mormon leaders talk spirituality, not changes, at conference

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are preparing for more changes as they gather in Utah for a twice-yearly conference to hear from the faith’s top leaders.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-44c884680323495f8acf09373609cb7d Mormon leaders talk spirituality, not changes, at conference fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/us/disasters fnc/us fnc eaf7ef79-b9aa-53ca-8efa-993a987c13c2 BRADY McCOMBS Associated Press article

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Elizabeth Smart kidnapper living near elementary school

A woman who helped kidnap Utah’s Elizabeth Smart is living several blocks away from a Salt Lake City elementary school following her release from prison in September, according to Utah’s sex-offender registry.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-fb5bd6d0e4c3410894387a2350a4c14f Elizabeth Smart kidnapper living near elementary school fox-news/us/crime fnc/us fnc BRADY McCOMBS Associated Press article 045108bb-4d56-5115-abe8-29f9cf4155a1

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Elizabeth Smart kidnapper now lives near elementary school

A woman who helped kidnap Utah’s Elizabeth Smart is living several blocks away from a Salt Lake City elementary school following her release from prison in September, according to Utah’s sex-offender registry.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-fb5bd6d0e4c3410894387a2350a4c14f Elizabeth Smart kidnapper now lives near elementary school fox-news/us/crime fnc/us fnc BRADY McCOMBS Associated Press article 045108bb-4d56-5115-abe8-29f9cf4155a1

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com