Orem police officer shot with own gun

DAILY HERALD

Leah L. Culler
An Orem police officer was shot with his own gun Sunday night after a melee with a 21-year-old man following a domestic dispute, police said.

The officer, Lt. Phil Murphy, had a bullet removed from his back and was released from the hospital Sunday night.

At about 7:20 p.m. Sunday, Orem police received a report of a fight between a boyfriend and girlfriend at 336 E. 1400 South. When Murphy arrived, he saw the suspect, David L. Burns, arguing with neighbors, according to Orem Police Lt. Doug Edwards.

Edwards said Murphy tried to calm the man, but the suspect instead attacked Murphy.

"They went to the ground," Edwards said. "It was knock down, drag out."

Another officer arrived on scene, and the suspect got his finger in that officer's holster and fired his weapon. No one was injured by that shot, but "obviously he was going after guns," Edwards said.

Edwards said the man then managed to get Murphy's gun out of his holster and fire a round, striking Murphy in the right shoulder. The bullet traveled through his shoulder and across his back, lodging near his spine.

A third officer arrived on the scene just as the suspect shot the first officer, police said. The third officer Tasered the suspect and subdued him.

"By the time he was able to get over and help, the shot had already been fired," Edwards said. "Taser was the best option."

Edwards said Murphy was "resting well" Sunday night. Edwards said the bullet was in the fatty layer just beneath the skin and was removed in the emergency room; serious surgery was not required.

"As serious of an incident as this was, this is the best of all scenarios," he said. "We're glad he's doing well."

Burns will likely face a charge of attempted homicide, Edwards said.

"We'll decide what, if anything, else" when the investigation is complete, he said.

While police protocol is to arrive in pairs, Edwards said when Murphy arrived, the suspect was already engaged in an argument and Murphy hoped his presence would calm the situation. The second officer arrived within minutes, he said.

"I think they did a nice job," Edwards said.

At 9:30 Sunday night, the crime scene was taped off and officers were searching for the first round that was shot out of the officer's holster.

"They must account for all rounds," Edwards said.

None of the officers involved in the incident will be placed on administrative leave, he said.

"That more happens with officers involved with a shooting where they've shot someone," Edwards said. "Lieutenant Murphy will be off for a while recuperating, but that's the only administrative leave we would be giving, and that's not for the same purposes."

Edwards said he hadn't had a chance to check Burns's criminal history but said he was from out of state, possibly Ohio. Burns currently lives at the address of the shooting in Orem.

"We've had a couple of dealings with him but no arrests that I know of," he said.

Edwards said he didn't "get the impression" that Burns was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Neighbor Duane Crockett, who lives just down the street from Burns, said he heard a shot Sunday evening around 8:20 or 8:30.

"I thought I heard just one shot, but I guess it was two," he said. "It was right before dark. I just happened to have my windows open."

Crockett heard the sirens a few minutes later, came out of his home and saw the "police presence."

Sundays on his street are "very quiet, usually," he said.

The last time an Orem police officer was shot while on duty was in August 2003, when officer Matt Pedersen's ankle was grazed by a bullet during a standoff in which four Orem officers shot and killed a man who fired at them.