Dramatic video shows wild police shootout on I-15 in Utah

Posted at 9:19 PM, Jan 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-10 22:19:37-05

More than 75 shots were exchanged, all but three of them from police.

Amazingly, not one officer or even a law enforcement vehicle was hit.

On Wednesday, the Utah County Sheriff's Office released dramatic dash camera video of a tense Dec. 20 shootout on I-15 between Springville and Orem, Utah, with a man that, unknown to deputies at that time, had already shot a man in Aurora, Colorado, and left him for dead, according to investigators.

Two videos showing the same incident from different angles were released. Utah County sheriff's deputies do not currently wear body cameras.

The wild events of that day began when Arturo Gallemore-Jimenez, 37, of Clearfield, became angry that he had locked his keys in his pickup truck at a truck stop in Nephi and broke into his car by shooting out a window, according to police.

Deputies spotted the truck a short time later on I-15 near Springville. Because Gallemore-Jimenez had already fired a shot, four deputies and a Spanish Fork police officer were used to make the traffic stop.

The video shows deputies getting out of their cars, approaching the pickup truck and ordering Gallemore-Jimenez to put his hands out the window. Just moments later, without any words being exchanged, one of his hands can be seen returning inside the truck. A deputy is heard telling others, "Careful."

Without warning, the video depicts Gallemore-Jimenez firing three rounds at the officers. All five officers returned fire. In six seconds, more than 50 rounds were exchanged. Just three of them were fired by Gallemore-Jimenez, said Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy.

But considering there were five officers, each of them firing eight to 12 rounds, Tracy believes it was an appropriate response. In those six seconds, the sheriff said the officers had to determine what the threat level was and what they needed to do stop the gunman from getting away.

"We all good?" a deputy is heard in the video talking on his police radio as the truck pulls away and the pursuit resumes.

A Provo man, 21, who was parked off the side of the freeway putting gas in his vehicle — about 1,600 feet in front of the shootout — was hit in the shoulder either by an errant shot or by a fragment that ricocheted, Tracy said. Investigators now believe the man was hit by an officer's bullet. His injuries were not life-threatening.

A Chevrolet Duramax carrying a man, woman and their four children was also hit during the shootout. A bullet went through the truck's back window, narrowly missing a 4-year-old boy in a car seat in the back and the father who was driving. No one was inured. Police believe that shot also came from a law enforcement officer.

After the first exchange of gunfire, Gallemore-Jimenez continued driving north on I-15, but only at 30 mph because his two rear tires were shot out, Tracy said. The video shows backup officers following the pickup truck from a distance while other officers slowed down other cars on the freeway to keep them at a distance.

At one point during the pursuit, a deputy is heard saying, "I just got shot at."

As officers follow Gallemore-Jimenez, they can be heard in the video talking about their next move. An armored vehicle from Nephi was trying to catch up about 20 miles behind them to perform a PIT manuever, Tracy said.

But as Gallemore-Jimenez got closer to an exit in Orem — which leads to a very populated area filled with shops, restaurants and hotels — a veteran member of the sheriff's SWAT team sped ahead to the off-ramp, got out of his vehicle and armed himself with his rifle.

If Gallemore-Jimenez had continued north on I-15, Tracy said the pursing officers would have waited for the armored vehicle. But once he took the University Parkway off-ramp, the deputy was the last line of defense between Gallemore-Jimenez and the busy area. The deputy's video shows him firing 27 rounds at Gallemore-Jimenez's passing vehicle, striking it each time.

"That was the officer’s choice. And I believe it was the correct choice, to not let that individual get back into the public," Tracy said of the deputy's decision to open fire.

Considering that the gunman had just attempted to kill police officers, and had used a gun to shoot his own window, Tracy said Gallemore-Jimenez had proved that he was dangerous.

"He was going to use a weapon to get away from everything and anything that was bothering him," the sheriff said. "We’re not going to let someone who we have already witnessed an attempted murder, go into the public and be lost from our chase. … There’s no way we’re going to let that individual get past that point.

"He was clearly in a mindset that he was going to shoot anything," Tracy added.

Gallemore-Jimenez, who was shot in the arm and had a grazing wound to his neck, crashed into a fence off the side of the road seconds later, the video shows. About a dozen officers who were following him can be seen getting out of their vehicles and waiting to see what the man might do next.

"You got your sniper rifle?” a deputy is heard asking another, who replies, "I do."

"Movement," several deputies yell as the truck door opens.

"Suspect, let’s see your hands in the air. Get down on the ground. All the way down. Do not move," a deputy is heard yelling commands.

The wounded Gallemore-Jimenez was then taken into custody and transported to a local hospital.

After he was arrested, investigators discovered "multiple firearms" in the man's pickup truck and learned that he was wearing body armor, Tracy said.

Gallemore-Jimenez was charged in 4th District Court with three counts of attempted aggravated murder, a first-degree felony; theft, a second-degree felony; failing to stop at the command of an officer and possession of a firearm by a restricted person, third-degree felonies; drug possession, a class A misdemeanor; drug possession, a class B misdemeanor; and driving on a revoked license, a class C misdemeanor.

After his arrest, Gallemore-Jimenez told investigators that if a single officer would have approached his car window at that point, he would have shot him, the charges say. He also said he was prepared to die.

"He stated he was pulled over in Springville and was prepared to shoot officers. He stated he believed God would have put that officer in (his) path to kill him," according to a police affidavit. He also allegedly claimed he had made a "mental hit list."

Tracy said his department has seen more officer-involved shootings in the past five years than ever before. What was most impactful to the sheriff about the incident is how quickly gunfire erupted. He said he is pleased that "by the grace of God" no officers were injured or killed. He believes the video depicts some tactical errors that deputies need to avoid in the future, such as being too exposed during the initial traffic stop.

Tracy said it was important to release the video to give transparency and accountability, and to show the public what his deputies were up against.

"I was pleased that our men were able to make those decisions in, I believe, a correct manner, and use and apply the appropriate level of force to keep an individual from entering the public,” he said.