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04/21/06, 20:16, Foot Pursuit/CED/ASP/OC deployment, near 1200 West and Iola Ave.

As reported by Salt Lake City Police: “Gang Detectives were in the listed area when they observed Alvin Itula (5-1-70) who the officers believed had outstanding warrants for his arrest. When the officers stopped to question Itula about the warrants, he attempted to flee then began to fight with the officers. O.C. (pepper spray), ASP (baton), and CED (conducted energy device) were all deployed without success. The suspect continued to fight as two additional officers arrived to assist. CED was deployed again and the suspect was taken into custody. Officers reported that the suspect was having trouble breathing and was later pronounced dead at the hospital. The two initial officers suffered several scrapes and cuts. The four officers have been placed on routine administrative leave pending an investigation by the District Attorney’s Office, Internal Affairs, and the Homicide division.

As it happened, the week before Itula died, he reportedly went before a judge and cleared up the outstanding warrant which, in a double-edged twist, was for failing to appear on a 2004 misdemeanor charge of assault on a police officer. When police nonetheless showed up to arrest Itula at his home, he bolted out of fear and distrust of the law, his widow later told a newspaper.

Of course, Itula shouldn’t have run from police, or fought them, as alleged. Still, a paperwork snafu appears to have set this tragedy in motion.

That said, what with cops in the capital city taking on depraved hoods and born-to-lose holdup men every day, it’s a wonder more perps don’t end up in the morgue. Cases in point:

4/22/06, 22:31, Shots Fired, 200 North 1000 W.

“The K-9 officer was in the area of the Laotian New Year celebration at the State Fairpark when he observed several security personnel moving toward a large gathering in the parking lot. The officer was approaching on foot when shots were fired from within asecond large gathering in the lot. The large crowd scattered everywhere as the officer and security tried to ascertain who was shooting, or if anyone had been hit. Back-up response was called for but then cancelled, once everyone’s safety was determined. The only injury was to a moving van parked nearby.”

4/26/2006, 07:29, Aggravated Robbery/Assault on Police Officer, 910 W. North Temple

“The officer arrived in the area just after a robbery had occurred at the Century Cleaning Barn. The officer observed a possible suspect walking north from the area on 900 West 140 N. As the officer approached the suspect, the suspect attacked the officer. [The 36-year-old male] struck the officer in the face, injuring his nose. During the struggle, the [suspect] tried to pull the officer’s weapon from the holster and was heard to state he had the officer’s gun. A citizen observed the struggle and ran to assist the officer. The good Samaritan was able to assist in taking the [suspect] safely into custody and preventedfurther injury to the officer and the [suspect].

04/27/06, 05:56, Robbery, 7-Eleven, 800 South 900 W.

“Two male black adults in their 20’s, 5’8”, entered the store together. One was wearing all black, went to the coffee machine and got a full cup of hot coffee. The second suspect was wearing a gray top and asked the clerk for change, presenting a small bill for the change. When the clerk opened the till, the suspect with the hot coffee threw it on her chest. As she reached toward the hot coffee, the two suspects grabbed cash from the till and fled westbound on 800 South.

If Alvin Itula got what he had coming (the district attorney will ultimately decide if he did), these dudes are at least due a phone book upside the head.

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Shane Johnson

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