2 Provo police officers on leave following Smith's shooting
May 9, 2010
PROVO -- Two Provo police officers are on administrative leave following a shooting that killed a man at a grocery store Saturday.
Police have identified the man officers shot and killed as 35-year-old Ronald Ethington of Payson. Investigators are waiting on autopsy results to determine whether Ethington was under the influence at the time of the shooting.
Police say Ethington got into a physical fight with two store employees at the Smith's at 350 N. Freedom Blvd. around 8:40 p.m.
"One of the Smith's employees had seen him shoplifting beer and so the employee made contact with him at the exit," said Capt. Cliff Argyle of the Provo Police Department.
""Our officers responded to that immediate threat with deadly force and fired upon the suspect." -Capt. Cliff Argyle"
The man tried to take off through the front doors, but the employees stopped him before he could leave.
The employees were able to get Ethington into an office area near the customer service desk and called police for assistance.
When the officers arrived, Ethington was still fighting the employees. One of the officers tried to subdue him with a Taser but was unsuccessful. Investigators aren't sure if the probes didn't make good contact or if they just missed completely.
At that point, police say Ethington pulled out a .357-caliber revolver and pointed it at the two officers.
"Our officers responded to that immediate threat with deadly force and fired upon the suspect," Argyle said. "The suspect was struck. Our officers performed first aid; however, the suspect died as a result of his injuries."
"There was like eight gunshots, so everybody hit the floor," said witness Shelly Thomas. "I was just behind the magazine rack trying to stay down. I don't know where my grandson was or anything, so I was just freaking out."
Neither officer was hurt in the incident. One of the employees who was fighting with Ethington received minor injuries to his hand during the scuffle.
Police say Ethington didn't have a history with the department. The Utah County Officer Involved Incident Protocol Task Force is the investigating agency in the case.
Smith's is part of the Kroeger's supermarket group.
No place is "safe"; supermarkets, schools, churches, etc., they all are potential sites of violent crimes by deranged people or criminals and, historically, have been.