SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — (KUTV) The three teenagers who admitted to striking and killing West Valley City Police Officer Cody Brotherson with a stolen car, as they tried to flee. The were sentenced Monday.
The teens, 14, 15 and 16, were ordered to secure care at a juvenile detention facility, along with 1,000 hours of community service for one and 2,000 hours for the other two. Judge Kimberly Hornak also admonished the trio to remember Brotherson every single day, every time they see an officer and every time they think about taking part in gang activity or crime in the future.
At one point in her ruling, the judge asked the defendants if they had seen a picture of Brotherson. They said they had not.
She ordered them to do so, and also to read more than 35 pages of letters written to the court by Brotherson's family, friends and fellow officers about the man he is and the impact of his death.
"We are here to learn about your future," Hornak said before her ruling to the defendants. "But this is more about Officer Brotherson and not you."
The small juvenile courtroom inside the Matheson courthouse was packed with Brotherson's family members, fiance, friends and fellow officers.
The defendants showed little emotion during the disposition, but during the assistant district attorney's description of the events, she called a violent crime spree that resulted in Brotherson's death, the youngest defendant could be seen shaking his head and rolling his eyes.
Family members sitting in the benches cried and audibly sobbed throughout the disposition. The sentencing was broken into two separate hearings, with the 15-year-old first. Brotherson's aunt addressed the court, his mother and his fiance about what they described as their nightmare that began eight months ago from which they cannot wake. The defendant read a brief statement, saying he was sorry and prayed for the family.
The second hearing was with both the 14 and 16-year-old defendants, whose attorneys spoke on their behalf. One argued this was a tragic accident, as family and friends shook their heads. Brotherson's mother and fiance addressed the court a second time.
After the dispositions, family members shared their satisfaction with it at least all coming to a close. But they also spoke about the lack of justice for Brotherson. His mother said changes need to be made in the Utah Legislature to install harsher sentences to those who kill a police officer.
West Valley City Police Chief Lee Russo told reporters that Brotherson was an officer every department wants to have, and that his loss has not only been devastating to his family, the force, but to the entire community. There are plans in place to memorialize the officer. But Chief Russo also spoke of the need to trust the judicial system, but also change the way a crime against a police officer is prosecuted.