Hatchet Wielding Utah Man Held at Gunpoint by Citizen

A hatchet wielding man was held at gunpoint by a citizen after a confrontation with another individual in Provo Utah.

Crosswalk road rage

Photo by: Kyle

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.

Aggravated assault

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.

Utah Man Impersonating an Officer Arrested For Making Death Threats

A Utah man impersonating an officer was arrested earlier this month after he made death threats against two men in Saratoga Springs.

Racial hatred

Photo by: HonestReporting

41 year old Jerred Martin Loftus of Eagle Mountain, Utah was arrested after he aggressively approached two men walking on a trail whom he accused of being in the United States illegally. Angry at the men for no apparent reason other than their ethnicity, Loftus told the men he was a correctional officer and threaten to shoot them and hide their bodies. The frightened men called police while Loftus fled the scene on foot, leaving his vehicle nearby with his firearm and ammunition inside. Loftus was later apprehended and charged with aggravated assault and impersonating an officer.

Impersonating an officer

Loftus told the men he was a correctional officer, and while it is unknown if he had been previously, at the time was not an authorized law enforcement official of any kind. Utah Code 76-8-512 defines impersonating an officer as when an individual:

(1) “Impersonates a public servant of a peace officer with intent to deceive another or with intent to induce another to submit to his pretended official authority or to rely upon his pretended official act;

(2) Falsely states he is a public servant or a peace officer with intent to deceive another or to induce another to submit to his pretended official authority or to rely upon his pretended act; or

(3) Displays or possesses without authority any badge, identification card, other form of identification, any restraint device, or the uniform of any state or local government entity, or a reasonable facsimile of any of these items, with the intent to deceive another or with the intent to induce another to submit to his pretended official authority or to rely upon his pretended official act.”

Impersonating an officer is a class B misdemeanor and punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Threatening to kill someone while impersonating an officer is punishable as a second degree felony, with up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Increased Alcoholism among Baby Boomers

Baby boomers are all nearing the age of retirement if they haven’t already and studies have shown this generation may have an increased chance of alcoholism, especially among women.

Increased age, increase alcohol use

Photo by: Katina Rogers

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism stated in a 2008 study ”about 40 percent of adults ages 65 and older drink alcohol.” Multiple studies conducted since that study in both in the U.S. and the UK have shown a dramatic increase of drinking among older adults than in previous years. Additionally, the amount of alcohol consumed by older adults is also increasing; in many case adults over 65 are drinking more than double the recommended weekly limit.

Older women at higher risk

While there have always been a higher amount of men who drink heavily compared to women, the rate of binge drinking among older women is increasing more rapidly than that of older males. Some theorize women over 65 may be increasing their heavy drinking due to it being more socially acceptable, to handle pain that comes with age, or even to fill the time of a life that may be slowing down with other activities.

Health risks

Photo by: Jeffrey Fairchild

Older women who drink heavily are at an increased risk of severe health problems related to alcohol abuse. According to the NIH, Those who are heavy drinkers could increase health problems such as “diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, liver problems, osteoporosis, memory problems, and mood disorders.” They also note that “women typically start to have alcohol-related problems at lower drinking levels than men”. Additionally, many medications that those 65 and older take regularly can have dangerous reactions when mixed with alcohol.

Legal ramifications

Beyond the wide range of health risks, both men and women over the age of 65 should be aware of the legal risks that can be associated with binge drinking.

• As reaction time and memory recall decreases with age, alcohol can magnify this effect. The combination of age and alcohol could increase the chance of individuals putting others in harm whether through trying to operate a vehicle or other heavy machinery or by increasing the chance of accidental home fires that could result in injury or death. The NIH stated “Aging can lower the body’s tolerance for alcohol. Older adults generally experience the effects of alcohol more quickly than when they were younger. This puts older adults at higher risks for falls, car crashes, and other unintentional injuries that may result from drinking.

• Alcohol has been shown to be a factor in many aggravated criminal cases such as homicides, assaults, and sexual crimes. Alcohol does not discriminate in regards to age. Those who have a tendency to show increased agitation when they are drunk at 40 may also face the same reaction when they are over 65. Age is never an excuse for violent behavior.

• In a little over a year, Utah will be decreasing the BAC limit for drivers. Most drivers, especially women who typically weigh less than men, will not be able to drive legally after even one drink. All drivers should consider planning ahead for a designated driver whenever alcohol is to be consumed.

Set limits

The NIH recommends those who are over 65, healthy, and not on medication (or planning on driving) should limit their amounts of alcohol to no more than “3 drinks on a given day” and “7 drinks in a week”. Although alcohol is legal for all adults over the age of 21, it may be wise to recognize problems of binge drinking and take precautions to curb excess drinking before health or legal consequences ensue. For any adult regardless of age that is facing criminal charges stemming from an alcohol related offense, it is best to consult immediately with a criminal defense attorney.