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Mother, family absolve police
in suspect shooting death
[Salt Lake City, UT]

January 03, 2001
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Mother, family absolve police
in suspect shooting death
[Salt Lake City, UT]

PoliceOne Staff Report
(SALT LAKE CITY) -- The family of a man who was shot and killed by police during a traffic stop refuse to blame officers for the death.

Robert Adam Howard was shot and killed by two Salt Lake City police officers after he backed his car into a cruiser during a traffic stop.

"Adam was living a dangerous and reckless lifestyle that was destined to end in tragedy one way or another," said his mother, Christine A. Howard, in a prepared statement given to The Salt Lake Tribune. "The official stand of our family is that we hold no person or organization responsible for his death."

According to police, Howard was stopped for driving through a red light. Instead of getting out of the car as the officers commanded, Howard, who was driving with his sister, Melissa, and two other passengers, rammed the car into the patrol vehicle.

The police fired five shots into the vehicle, Howard's sister told the Tribune. None of the passengers were injured.

His aunt, Jeanine Howard, told the newspaper that police had arrested him in October on public intoxication, theft of services and disturbing the peace. He failed to show up to his arraignment and a warrant was issued.

Apparently Howard was trying to flee police because he did not want to go to jail.

According to Jeanine Howard the escalating incident was a series of miscalculations and errors on the part of her nephew. The aunt told the Tribune that Melissa Howard had tried to get the keys away from Robert Adam Howard and he accidentally put the car in reverse.

His mother told the newspaper that she did not want to second-guess the police because it would "introduce anger and revenge into the equation."

The prepared statement ends: "We loved Adam dearly and regret the choices he made that eventually led to a tragic death."

The two officers have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation, but Capt. Scott Atkinson supported the officers' use of deadly force.

"People always want to deflect this stuff and say the cops are to blame, but the deceased put his sister and the two other occupants in danger by his actions," he told the Tribune.

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