U.S. Attorney in Utah responds to criticisms over prior status of suspect who fatally shot Officer Barney

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UTAH — After a Utah officer was shot and killed in the line of duty in Holladay by a suspect, some people questioned why that man was not in custody even though he had violated his parole and walked away from a treatment program. Now, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah is responding to those questions and concerns.

Officer Doug Barney was shot in the head, allegedly by Cory Lee Henderson, after Henderson fled from the scene of a traffic accident with injuries. Earlier this week, the Fraternal Order of Police questioned why Henderson wasn’t already behind bars, given his criminal history and the fact he had violated his parole.

John W. Huber, U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah, released a statement Thursday responding to some of those criticisms. The statement says the case will be under investigation and adds that, “While it is valuable and necessary to assess what happened and identify ways we can all do our jobs better, hindsight is 20/20. We would all do things differently knowing what we now know.”

The full statement from John W. Huber is below:

“Like all who work in the criminal justice system, our hearts are heavy this week. We are deeply saddened by the loss of Officer Doug Barney and the serious injuries sustained by Officer Jon Richey. Our hearts are also full of gratitude for the heroic efforts of those who willingly risk their lives every day to keep our families and communities safe. We also want the families of our law enforcement officers to know we recognize how much they sacrifice on our behalf.

“Those of us involved in the criminal justice profession will join others in the coming weeks to review the circumstances surrounding this tragedy. Federal judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys make decisions on detention issues every day. In each of these cases, those involved take their duties seriously and use their best judgment in balancing competing interests. While it is valuable and necessary to assess what happened and identify ways we can all do our jobs better, hindsight is 20/20. We would all do things differently knowing what we now know.

“Our federal judges in Utah are thoughtful, careful, and have the best of intentions as they make difficult decisions. In this matter, the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not object to the judge’s ultimate pre-trial detention decision. Once we have had time to honor the two Unified Police Department officers and support their families, we intend to focus our energy on making sure we learn from this tragic situation.

“In the emotional aftermath of these shootings, may we remember there is only one person to blame – the fugitive who committed these heinous crimes.”

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