LEHI, Utah (KUTV) — Three people are speaking out after being involved in a wrongful traffic stop earlier this month that led to them fearing for their lives.
Lehi police released a statement two weeks ago admitting that an officer received an alert and confirmed from dispatch that a vehicle had been stolen after running a license plate.
The only problem was that it was an error, and the car was not stolen. It led to a stop that quickly turned hostile between both parties.
A Sunday afternoon lunch between friends turned sour when Toren Beales saw he was getting pulled over by Lehi police on their way home.
"When I look into the mirror waiting for the officer to approach my vehicle, I see guns pointed out and I'm like ‘woah,’” said Toren Beales, the driver of the car.
Beales and his friend Michael Srygler said they immediately went into panic mode, not knowing what was going on.
"We didn't do anything to warrant this kind of engagement from law enforcement,” said Srygler, “I turn on my cell phone camera and instantly started recording.”
Beales had been pulled over by Lehi police who were under the impression that the car had been stolen. The license plate read it in their system as stolen, and dispatch confirmed it, causing the officers to make the stop.
"This whole situation could've been avoided with a simple paperwork check and instead they went straight to holding guns at us,” said Carli Brady, who was in the back seat of the car.
The Lieutenant of internal affairs at the department, who didn’t want to speak on camera, said he's never seen something like this happen before.
"This is the first one,” said Kenny Rose, the Lieutenant of Standards and Training Division. “I have never heard of or seen, it’s a very rare circumstance.”
Under normal circumstances, police drawing their guns during a felony traffic stop would be standard procedure.
“You have to understand you're on 2100 North, which is also a busy roadway with the road traffic noise,” said Rose. "You also have the distance between officers at the back of the vehicle, up to the vehicle, and in this case. You also had a passenger that was yelling very loudly as well.”
Michael Srygler can be heard in the video recording getting very upset with police.
"They tried to tell us that I was talking too much and that’s why they couldn’t concentrate," he said. “I think perhaps the language could have been toned down a little bit but at the same time how officers were responding with their language."
"We completely understand their frustration and confusion of the whole situation,” said Lt. Rose.
One concerning piece of the video was when an officer was heard agreeing it was fun to aim guns at children. Toren Beales had his six-year-old son in the back of the car witnessing the entire stop.
"You're aiming your gun at a car with a child is that fun?” said Srygler in the video.
“Yeah, it’s fun,” said Sgt. Drew Olson, an officer apart of the stop.
When asked about that, the lieutenant said it was dealt with internally.
"It doesn’t represent the beliefs policies or procedures of Lehi police,” said Lt. Rose.
Along with making the wrongful stop in the first place, the Lehi Police Department admitted to making multiple mistakes during the duration of the stop as well, including officers not giving the passengers their identification.
They said they have since tried to reach out to the three people involved to talk privately but have not gotten any response.