Attorneys for a man who was shot and killed by a police officer last fall have filed a lawsuit against the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Department for what they claim to be unlawful and unconstitutional use of deadly force.
On the night of October 26th, an intoxicated, unarmed, 52-year-old Troy Burkinshaw took Box Elder County Sheriff’s Deputy Austin Bowcutt on a car chase through the streets of Corrinne, Utah after he’d been cited for urinating on the side of the road. The chase ended as Burkinshaw maneuvered his vehicle out of a dead-end road and into Deputy Bowcutt who had exited his own vehicle. Bowcutt fired two shots at Burkinshaw through his windshield.
“He has a person, who’s under the influence of alcohol, who isn’t fully conversant, who’s driving at low speeds," says Attorney Jim McConkie. He says it was a death that could have been prevented. His firm is representing Burkinshaw’s estate hoping to end the use of excessive force by police officers.
“He has time to think about how they’re going to bring this chase to a safe conclusion, de-escalate the situation," McConkie says. "He’d been trained to do those kinds of things. And yet his choice is to use deadly force.”
McConkie says the only reason way to justify the shooting is if Burkinshaw was trying to run the officer down and the officer couldn’t get away.
“But in this situation, the officer places himself in front of the vehicle, is walking backwards and Mr. Burkinshaw is not trying to run him over," McConkie says.
Box Elder County Sheriff Lynn Yeates told KUER he did not want to comment because he had not yet seen the lawsuit documents.