Salt Lake Co. DA will not press charges against ATF agent who shot and killed a man

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County District Attorney Sam Gill sent a letter Wednesday that stated an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will not face criminal charges for shooting and killing a man who disobeyed agents’ commands and attempted to flee.

The incident occurred in March 2018 near a TRAX station in Sandy. According to the DA’s letter, a task force of ATF agents and other police officers were attempting to locate a fugitive with a federal arrest warrant named Brian Solis. Police had obtained a cell phone number for Solis and a search warrant that would allow them to track Solis’ location using the phone number.

The letter states the task force tracked the phone allegedly belonging to Solis to a parking lot in Sandy. Only one car in the parking lot had people in it. Officers saw three people in a white BMW sedan, none of whom matched the description of Solis. Officers approached the vehicle to determine why Solis’ phone appeared to be inside.

Agents and officers addressed the people in the vehicle, a man and two women, who exited the vehicle. The agents identified themselves and asked the man, Brian Liles, for identification. According to the letter, Liles told agents his identification was in the car and began to walk toward the car. One of the agents told Liles to not worry about it and stay outside the car. The letter states that Liles did not comply with the agent’s order, got in the car, and attempted to drive away.

One ATF agent reached into the car to try and stop Liles from driving off. Instead, Liles drove off with the agent half inside the car.

The second agent on the scene, Brian Embley, told investigators that it appeared as if Liles would cause serious bodily harm to either himself or the agent hanging outside the car. Because of this, Embley fired a series of shots at Liles. The other agent was able to free himself from the car.

Embley and the other agent continued to pursue the car on foot, when Liles suddenly stopped. Embley approached the window, and told investigators Liles said something like, “why did you shoot me?” Embley said Liles was looking at him, while Liles’ hands were reaching for something Embley couldn’t see. Embley told investigators he believed Liles was reaching for a weapon,  so Embley shot at Liles again. Embley’s statement says he feared he was about to be killed in that moment.

Embley, the other agent and an officer opened the driver’s door of the BMW and got Liles out of the car. Officers began first aid while waiting for medical personnel to arrive. Liles was taken to a hospital and later pronounced dead.

Gill’s letter stated Embley’s belief that Liles put himself and the other agent at a risk of death or serious injury was reasonable and justified the first shots he fired as Liles drove away. Gill also said Embley’s belief that Liles continued to pose a serious threat after stopping the vehicle was reasonable. The investigation determined there was likely a gun in the car that Liles was reaching for before Embley shot at him a second time.

The letter determined that Embley’s use of force was justified because Embley was trying to prevent death or serious injury to himself or another person. The DA will not file criminal charges against Embley.

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