Posted: 10:07 AM- A federal jury has cleared two police officers in the 1998 fatal shooting of a suicidal man in his parents' Mount Pleasant driveway.
After more than five hours of deliberation, jurors rejected claims in a wrongful death lawsuit that David Walker's constitutional rights had been violated by the shooting.
"Both the officers and everyone involved in defending them are quite pleased," attorney Peter Stirba, who represented Pleasant Grove Officer John Clayton, said Friday. "We think it's a correct verdict."
The trial, before U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart in Salt Lake City, began Oct. 9. The verdict was returned about 8 p.m. Thursday.
Clayton and Orem Police Sgt. Harold Peterson chased Walker to his parents' home on Dec. 29, 1998, after his sister reported that Walker stole her car and was suicidal. The 25-year-old Walker got out of the car and at some point held a knife in front of him.
The officers, who said they believed the knife was a gun, fired. Peterson's attorney, Andrew Morse, said in opening statements that Walker was facing his client in a "shooter's stance" and holding an object that the officer thought was a .38 Special revolver.
Peterson shot Walker in the hip, and then Clayton shot Walker in the chest and back.
Walker's family sued the officers for unspecified damages. Stewart denied immunity to the officers, a decision that the 10th U.S. District Court of Appeals in Denver upheld last year.
Peterson is now retired; Clayton still works for the Pleasant Grove Police Department.