County Attorney rules police shooting of bank robbery suspect justified

Forefront: Benjamin Schroff, location and date not provided | Photo courtesy of Schroff's family; Background, The scene where the suspect was brought down, Washington, Utah, Sept. 11, 2014 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The police shooting of a man who allegedly robbed a bank at gunpoint, took hostages and fired at police while fleeing was ruled justified by the Washington County Attorney’s Office Friday.

A report released by the Washington County Attorney’s Office identifies two St. George Police officers, Officer Jarab Daniel and Sgt. Richard Triplett, as the individuals involved in the shooting of 37-year-old bank robbery suspect Benjamin Jay Schroff.

Incident leading to the shooting

Scene of the officer-involved shooting involving St. George Police and Benjamin Jay Schroff, Washington City, Utah, Sept. 11, 2014 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Attorney's Office, St. George News
Scene of the officer-involved shooting involving St. George Police and Benjamin Jay Schroff, Washington City, Utah, Sept. 11, 2014 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Attorney’s Office, St. George News

On Sept. 11, Schroff reportedly robbed the Zions Bank on River Road at gunpoint and took two hostages with him and used one of the hostage’s cars to flee the scene. When police spotted the car, Schroff began to fire at them, striking a number of the police vehicles. None of the pursuing officers were hit themselves. Schroff then abandoned the car and the hostages and ran into an area along the Virgin River that was a mix of subdivisions and foliage. The hostages were found unharmed.

Schroff was armed with a shotgun, a handgun, and wearing body armor in the form of a tactical vest, the report states.

It is while searching for Schroff that St. George Police Officer Jarab Daniel, Sgt. Richard Tripplet and other officers encountered him and the altercation took place.

The shooting

The report states Schroff left the cover of a brush with the shotgun in hand and ran toward two officers ahead of him. Other officers who saw him ordered him to stop and drop the gun multiple times. Schroff allegedly pointed the shotgun at an officer, at which point Triplett and Daniel opened fire.

“Schroff took a few steps forward, fell to the ground, and rolled onto his back,” the report states.

At this time Triplett and Daniel were giving Schroff commands to keep his hands up and visible. Instead, both officers said “they saw Schroff reaching toward his waistband and feared that Schroff was reaching for another weapon,” according to Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap’s report.

Triplett and Daniel fired a second round of shots that proved fatal.

Preliminary autopsy results showed Schroff was shot 26-28 times – twice to the head.

Use of deadly force ruled justified

Officers must have probable cause to use deadly force, Belnap wrote in the report.

Both Triplett and Daniel had probable cause based on Schroff’s alleged actions which amounted to several felony-level offenses, Belnap wrote, including aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapped, aggravated attempted murder.

Belnap said the use of deadly force was also justified in order to prevent the suspect’s escape. It was noted the direction Schroff was running toward, not only placed two officers in his path, but also “a populated subdivision where onlookers had congregated.”

Belnap wrote:

Because the suspect had previously taken hostages, shot at officers, was disregarding commands to drop his weapon, was wearing body armor, and was running toward another officer while pointing the gun toward that officer, Sergeant Triplett and Officer Daniel reasonably believed that deadly force was necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to themselves or others, including fellow officers or civilians located just beyond the police perimeter

….

Sergeant Triplett and Offìcer Daniel’s use of deadly force was justified under Utah law

Following the incident on Sept. 11, family and friends of Schroff said they were grieved and surprised.

“He was a great guy,” Schroff’s stepsister Julie Santiago told St. George News.  It appeared he had fallen into “a bad and dark place and he didn’t see a way out out of it,” she said.

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16 Comments

  • Mark Vinclio October 10, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    it’s about time Brock you really shouldn’t have won the election you are horrible at this job. you got to get more secure with yourself and be able to start making a decision and not dwell on it for so … long. grow a pair
    Ed. ellipsis.

  • My Evil Twin October 10, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    Looks like our county attorney finally made a reasonable decision.

  • Retired Trooper October 10, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    You shoot till the threat is gone. Could be 1 shot or 100. Failure shot are to the head when other shot are not stopping the threat. Body armor will do that.

  • Bobber October 10, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Cops are way too Trigger happy . Maybe not in this case but overall they are. Supposed to be public servants to protect and serve not get a power complex and go acting like you’re hitler SS. Would be nice if y’all would do some traffic policing too…

    • JAR October 11, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      I don’t mean to be judgmental but Bobber, your a out and out nut job.

  • wash.city. res October 10, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    26-28 times? don’t they teach you shoot to kill? I’m sorry but that’s ridiculous if you can’t shoot any better than that you should think of a different line of work.

    • My Evil Twin October 11, 2014 at 8:38 am

      Easy to say when you are sitting at your computer. But try being in a fire fight and see how easy it is. IDIOT.

    • Phil Stevens October 11, 2014 at 9:18 am

      Turn on your brain. 26-28 makes no difference. It said he had body armor on. Time to take out the the Hollywood experience you have and read the article. It side he was shot in the head 2 times and that is what killed him. I am afraid you are ridiculous and SG News can’t put more pictures on and type slower so you can understand.

      Maybe they should have just shot a net out a batman gun so he was not injured and relocate him to your living room while they went and interviewed so they can get into another line of work.

      • justin October 11, 2014 at 1:43 pm

        …lighten up on the steroids, “phil” and “evil twin”….they’ll inhibit your ability to reproduce…

  • Animal lover October 11, 2014 at 8:20 am

    From the sounds of it, all of the officers involved and the county attorney did a wonderful job. A BIG thank you to the officers for serving and protecting. I am sure shooting and killing someone, even someone who poses such a big threat is very traumatic. I hope they both recover quickly and get back to serving and protecting. I agree with ” retired troopers” comment. You shoot enough times to end the threat. And body armor would certainly require more shots. I sure hate to see the ignorant and negative comments on here. No need for that.

  • Bobber October 11, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    There are some great cops out there but there are the ones that are in combat mode all the the time. “Retired Trooper” probably went around ready to shoot anyone back in his day intimidating and acting like the alpha dog. A lot of them are that way and they ruin the rep of all cops…

    • My Evil Twin October 11, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      Speaking of ruining reputations, Bobber, you are certainly not about to ruin the reputation of dirt bags. In fact, from your posts, I’d say you are a shining example of a dirt bag.

  • Old Man October 11, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Those who can do. Those who can’t are Bobber.

  • ladybugavenger October 11, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    These comments would nothing without the entertainment of BOBBER and KOOLAID…you all secretly look forward to their comments 🙂 me, I’m not secret about it, I go to the comment section first before reading the story 🙂

  • Zonkerb October 11, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Good decision its was the right call

  • D and D October 11, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Like getting a newspaper and going to the comic page.
    Have to see what the clowns are saying or posting today.

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