A hatchet wielding man was held at gunpoint by a citizen after a confrontation with another individual in Provo Utah.
Crosswalk road rage
55 year old Galen Williams was driving along a Provo, Utah road when he didn’t obey proper rules or etiquette regarding a crosswalk and pulled too far over the crossing lines. An individual who may have been in the crosswalk when Williams approached got into a verbal altercation and was then followed by Williams into a nearby parking lot. There Williams attempted to confront the individual but was stopped by the victim’s father. Williams struck the father in the face with his fist then went to the back of his vehicle and retrieved a hatchet. The father took a firearm from his own vehicle and pointed it at the hatchet wielding Williams until police could arrive.
Officers from the Orem Police Department arrived and arrested Williams for assault and aggravated assault. The assault charges stem from the punch Williams conferred upon the victim’s father and resulted in a class A misdemeanor for the defendant. The Aggravated assault charge is due to the hatchet, even though it wasn’t actually used against another person. Utah Code 76-5-103 states “Aggravated assault is an actor’s conduct that is:
- An attempt, with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another;
- A threat, accompanied by a show of immediate force or violence, to do bodily injury to another; or
- An act, commit with unlawful force or violence, that causes bodily injury to another or creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another; and . . . includes the use of a dangerous weapon”.
Although Williams may have had no plans to actually use the hatchet on one of the victims, he displayed the dangerous weapon during an altercation which could have been taken as a threat of violence with the hatchet. Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon that does not result in serious bodily injury is a third degree felony.
No charges for the armed citizen
Williams was not the only individual to display a weapon during the confrontation in the parking lot. The father of the victim who turned into a victim himself after being punched in the face pulled a gun on Williams during the incident. Although the father’s choice of a firearm is also considered a dangerous weapon and had the potential to do more harm from a distance, he will not face any charges for pulling a gun on his assailant. This is due to Utah law giving people the right to defend themselves.
Force in defense of person
Utah Code 76-2-402 states “A person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that force or a threat of force is necessary to defend the person or a third person against another person’s imminent use of unlawful force. . . . A person is justified in using force intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury only if the person reasonably believes that force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to the person or a third person as a result of another person’s imminent use of unlawful force, or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.” That section goes on to warn that “A person is not justified in using force . . . if the person:
- Initially provokes the use of force . . . as an excuse to inflict bodily harm upon the assailant;
- Is attempting to commit . . . or fleeing after . . . a felony. . . :
- Was the aggressor or was engaged in combat by agreement. . . “
Since the father of the victim was not the one to start the fight and didn’t intentionally aggravate Williams to make him reach for the hatchet, his choice to pull a loaded firearm on Williams in his defense was justified. Anyone who may be facing aggravated assault charges for displaying or using a weapon during an altercation is encouraged to speak with an attorney to see if their case may actually constitute force in defense of person.