Family suing county over fatal shooting
The family of a Sandy man who was killed in the October 26, 2012, officer-involved shooting in Corinne has signaled their intent to file a wrongful death suit in federal court by notifying the Box Elder County Sheriff’s department of their intentions after the Box Elder County Attorney determined that the homicide was justifiable.
The notice from the family’s attorney cites violations of Utah State Constitution as well as claiming that the use of deadly force was not warranted in the instance that left Troy Clark Burkinshaw, 52, shot dead by Box Elder County Sheriff’s Deputy Austin Bowcutt, an eight-year veteran of the department.
“The deputy, besides murdering Troy, had many courses of action,” said Joseph Smith, Burkinshaw’s stepfather, in a letter to the Box Elder News Journal last November. “If he was so scared of being killed by an unarmed man, he might have called for backup...blocked the road...shot out Troy’s tires.”
The family’s attorney, David Biggs, of Steele & Biggs in Salt Lake City, said the perception is that the situation was not life threatening and that the deputy placed himself in positions of danger in order to justify the use of deadly force.
“Bowcutt had all the time in the world, I don’t understand why he didn’t wait for backup,” said Biggs.
Biggs said that the details and facts of the case should be looked at by a jury.
The Box Elder County Attorney’s office did not respond for comment regarding the lawsuit but in the December 12, 2012, issue of the News Journal, County Attorney Stephen Hadfield said that Bowcutt had reason to believe his life was in jeopardy and there was serious threat of bodily injury to the deputy.
On the night of the incident, Deputy Bowcutt was patrolling just east of Corinne when he saw Burkinshaw urinating on the side of Highway 30, in “plain view,” outside of his dark blue 2001 Volkswagen Jetta.
Bowcutt initiated a stop to talk to Burkinshaw about his behavior and quickly became suspicious, noting that he could smell the odor of alcohol and that he saw a three-quarters full bottle of vodka within reach of the driver.