Utah parole agent faces felony charge after shooting parolee

A Utah Adult Probation and Parole officer, Andrew O'Gwin, faces a felony charge of aggravated assault in connection with a May 14, 2017, incident in which he fired shots at a parolee Joe Alvin Gomez. According to reports, O'Gwin did not recognize Gomez as his parolee at the time. Accounts of the incident vary. The incident occurred in Murray, Utah. | AP&P badge image by Anantihero, CC BY-SA 4.0, , courthouse exterior and justice scales via Pixabay, composite by St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah state parole agent was charged Monday with aggravated assault in the shooting of a parolee at a stoplight last year.

Joe Alvin Gomez, date and place not specified. Gomez is a parolee who was allegedly shot by Adult Probation and Parole officer Andrew O’Gwin around midnight on May 14, 2017, in Murray. Gomez survived the shooting. An investigative report released by the Salt Lake County Attorney’s Office Monday states the shooting was not justified. Accounts of the incident vary. O’Gwin has been charged with felony aggravated assault in connection with the incident. | Photo from Christensen & Jensen courtesy of Fox13Now.com, St. George News

Andrew O’Gwin, 38, was unjustified when he fired five times at Joe Alvin Gomez around midnight on May 14, 2017, the Salt Lake County Attorney’s Office said in a news release. Gomez survived after being shot three times in the midsection.

The shooting occurred in the Salt Lake City suburb of Murray after Gomez approached the driver side window of O’Gwin’s car and was raising his arms angrily while the two vehicles were stopped at a red light, according to information from two witnesses included in charged documents.

It’s unclear what led to the confrontation, and different people gave different accounts of what happened.

O’Gwin told investigators that Gomez punched the driver’s side window with force three times and appeared to have an object in his hand. He was on duty assisting other officers in an unmarked car typical of a parole agent. O’Gwin, who supervises gang members in his job as an adult probation and parole agent with the Utah Department of Corrections, feared for his life because he thought Gomez was a gang member or may have been coming after him on behalf of a gang member, prosecutors said.

“By the time the third hit happened, I just remembered I was pulling my trigger,” O’Gwin told investigators.

Prosecutors said O’Gwin’s account of what happened doesn’t match witness testimony or physical evidence. None of the witnesses saw Gomez hit O’Gwin’s car, and there were no injuries to Gomez’ hands or forearms and no damage to the car window prior to the shooting, prosecutors said.

Investigators say neither man recognized the other during the encounter even though O’Gwin was assigned to supervise Gomez, who had recently been paroled from prison. They spoke by phone earlier that day, with both telling investigators it was a cordial conversation.

Gomez told investigators he never confronted O’Gwin or hit his car and denied having a weapon. He said he was shot after he got out of his car to brush off a burning cigarette from his pants.

Utah Department of Corrections Executive Director Rollin Cook said he supports O’Gwin based on what he knows about the incident. O’Gwin has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting, Cook said, adding that the length of the investigation has been frustrating. The agency is starting an internal probe now that the criminal investigation is complete.

No attorney was listed in court documents for O’Gwin. A phone number listed for him was out of service.

Attorney Karra Porter, who is representing Gomez, said her client still has only limited use of his arm and said his vision was affected by glass that that lodged in his eye. He was also sent back to prison for months after the shooting and wasn’t released until January, she said.

Written by BRADY McCOMBS, Associated Press

Associated Press writer Lindsay Whitehurst contributed to this report.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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6 Comments

  • comments April 10, 2018 at 11:02 am

    so someone here is obviously lying.

  • Overwatch April 10, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    What a shame there are those pesky witnesses that contradicted what the Law Enforcement officer said. This and no physical evidence that could prove what the officer said happened got this great LEO into trouble. Lets face it, one guy is on parole and one has a badge. We all know who is in the right here.

    In my experience with local LEOs they made sure that the witness statement that did not go along with the story they were telling and proved people innocent, did not make it into their reports. You wouldn’t want to ruin a great, headline making, career making case go away do to some pesky facts. So I guess the people in St George should be proud of the SGPD. They are a little better at telling lies and not getting caught.

    • PatriotLiberal April 10, 2018 at 2:25 pm

      Im sorry that you had that experience. My entire family (pretty much) is Law Enforcement and NONE of them would have even thought about doing what you say you’ve seen done. Of course there are a few but in my experience, they didn’t last long.

      • Overwatch April 10, 2018 at 6:07 pm

        The godfather of my children is a police officer. My brother in law is a US Marshal. I am a military veteran who held a Top Secret clearance and was military police. I know that 95% of LEOs are good people. But there are dirty/incompetent LEO’s and they need to be exposed for what they are. I sued the city and the police. The city and police covered for these officers. The news would not run the story. I ran out of money. Just wish someone who claims to be a journalist would do their job and let the people know what goes on. But nobody in Southern Utah wants to rock the boat. So I left. It is a great place, if you don’t rock the boat.

        I am not anti LEO. I am anti dirty/incompetent LEO. It hurts the 95% that are good at a very difficult job.

  • Striker4 April 11, 2018 at 12:11 am

    Ha Ha he s going to jail ! GOOD !

  • Sparky April 11, 2018 at 10:13 am

    Yikes!

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