Authorities say that Cody Evans had a criminal history that included domestic violence and assault charges, but are still unsure why he made decisions that led to his life being ended in police gunfire Sunday morning in Provo, Utah.
Evans was the subject of a domestic violence call that quickly went from bad to worse:
At approximately 7:59 a.m., police responded to a domestic violence call. Officers located a male suspect, later identified as 24-year-old Cody Evans of Springville, at Paul Ream Wilderness Park, 1600 W. 500 North, where he had barricaded himself in his truck, said Lt. Brandon Post with Provo police.
While in his truck, Post said, the suspect grabbed what appeared to be an AR-15 style rifle. A press release from police states Evans, “racked the charging handle on the rifle” and then told officers he was going to ram their cars. He began revving his engine, and officers attempted to box the man in by putting spike strips down in front of the truck.
Evans drove through yards to escape, and officers quickly terminated a short chase after Evans ran a red light and officers feared for the safety of the public.
His vehicle was spotted 90 minutes later at one of his friend’s homes, and officers cautiously approached. They spotted Evans coming out of an outbuilding and began yelling commands for him to surrender. He instead ran to his vehicle and grabbed what appears to be an AR-15 and pointed it at the officers.
Two officers fired a total of three shots from approximately 100 feet in self-defense as pointed the realistic rifle at them. At least one of the shots hit Evans, who died at the scene.
Evans’ brother said that the shooting, “wasn’t justified,” but seemed more resigned than outraged by the shooting, which is perhaps best described a “suicide by cop.” Evans knew that pointing a realistic weapon at police would result in them being forced to open fire upon him in self-defense, and his rifle—orange tip removed—looked indistinguishable from a real firearm.
It wasn’t fair for Evans to put officers in this situation, but he did, and his death is clearly of his own doing. It is a shame that he chose this path.
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Legislators in several states are looking at a number of legislative remedies in an attempt to stop manufacturers from making toy firearms that look exactly like real firearms. some bills are demanding that airsoft guns be translucent or brightly painted, while others are proposing bills that toy guns to stop exactly mimicking the size and external look of real firearms.
The primary goal of these legislative efforts is to reduce accidental shootings of children and teens that officers mistake for criminals armed with real weapons, with a secondary emphasis on the fact that criminals are using these airsoft toys to commit crimes such as armed robbery.
Unfortunately, the legislation proposed so far isn’t likely to stop criminals or save the stupid. Laws aimed at coloring airsoft guns are easily thwarted by a can of spray paint, and laws aimed at outlawing realistic shapes don’t take into account the fact that criminals have modified real firearms to look like other objects for years.
These laws overlook the undeniable fact that law enforcement officers must react to the actions of people.
The officers in this instance could not know that Evans’ AR-15 was faked. In another instance, officers could not know that this “water gun” was actually a 20-gauge shotgun. If it is much more sophisticated than a stick and being treated by the suspect as a firearm, then officers must react to it like a firearm.
I don’t have any answers for the Evans family, nor answers for the family of Tamir Rice or Andy Lopez or other teens shot for carrying realistic toy firearms.
Legislators are going to propose these and other laws, but can’t address the core problem of fixing human behavior and poor decision-making.