Mesa officer

A poor decision made in a split second has ended an officer’s career with the Mesa Police Department.

Mesa Police determined that an officer who fired two shots at a car as it sped away from a traffic stop on July 2 broke the department’s firearms use policies, which prohibit shooting at fleeing suspects except in extreme circumstances.

Professional Standards reviewers recommended termination for Officer Kaylon Hall, who resigned before the department carried out the action.

On July 2, the four-year officer conducted a traffic stop on a silver Hyundai Sonata observed swerving in and out of traffic lanes near Ivyglen Street and Country Club Road.

During the stop, the 18-year-old driver was “acting usual and looking for his vehicle registration in unusual spots,” according to notes from a Critical Incident Review board meeting in September. 

When a back-up officer arrived, Hall opened the driver-side door, asked the driver to remove his seat belt and step out of the car.

The driver then said, “C’mon, man,” before turning the engine on, pulling the door closed with his left hand and driving away westbound on Ivyglen Street.

In the back-up officer’s body camera video, Hall watches the vehicle speed away for a brief moment then pulls out his pistol and fires two rounds at the vehicle. 

Investigators later determined the bullets struck the rear bumper.

Review board notes indicate the backup officer ran back to his patrol vehicle to commence a chase before “realizing that pursuit was not warranted.”

He went back to Hall, and both realized “the situation escalated, and the discharge of the firearm was out of policy.”

A police helicopter tracked the fleeing car to a residence in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

“Due to jurisdictional challenges, Mesa police officers were unable to enter the Indian community to contact the driver,” the department stated, but detectives eventually reached the driver by phone. The driver said he was not injured and confirmed the vehicle was struck by two bullets.

He “declined to return to Mesa to speak with detectives further,” but sent Mesa PD a photo of the car’s bumper with two bullet holes. The suspect was not charged.

The Critical Incident Review Board determined that Hall broke several department policies by shooting at the fleeing vehicle.

“The use of force was not objectively reasonable, and the Board concluded his actions were not what is expected of a Mesa Police Officer,” a department memo stated following the meeting.

According to MPD policies, firearms may only be used to prevent the escape of a “dangerous fleeing subject” when a suspect has killed or seriously injured someone, or a subject’s escape “would pose an imminent danger of death of serious injury to the officer or another person.”

Also, “shooting at or from a moving vehicle is prohibited,” except when a vehicle is being used in an act of terrorism or someone inside the vehicle is using or threatening deadly force.

During the CRIB meeting, officers noted that the officer who fired the shots also violated department policy by not activating his body camera at the start of the traffic stop, and officials reported that it was not the officer’s first violation of body camera policies.

Someone in the CRIB meeting asked whether the officer who resigned could be rehired by another department, and officials responded by saying “when an officer resigns, AZPost (the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board) obtains some info on the officer and other AZ agencies can review this information before hiring them.”

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