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Summit County deputy cleared in November shooting death

Donald Ball
Shelly Rigler
Donald Ball

The Summit County deputy who shot and killed a 41-year-old Wasatch County man last November has been cleared for the use of deadly force and is back to work this week.

Donald Ball was an honorably discharged Marine who had a no-bail warrant out for his arrest. But when he evaded a traffic stop in Kamas last November, a police chase ensued, and Ball ended up crashing his vehicle on Bench Creek Road in Wasatch County.

At the time, deputies said Ball got out and moved toward a deputy wielding a large blunt object when the deputy shot him. Ball died at the scene.

Last week, Summit County Sheriff Frank Smith received a letter of clearance from the Wasatch County Attorney’s office who was investigating the shooting. They found the deputy was justified for the use of deadly force and cleared him for duty. He had been on administrative leave since the shooting.

“The event is on dashcam video,” Smith said. “So, there's a lot of evidence out there that they had to sift through. And truly, we appreciate them taking the time and being this thorough so there's no questions by the family or by the deputy’s family of what occurred.”

The sheriff says he believes the shooting could have been avoided if more mental health services were provided, especially for veterans like Ball who suffer from PTSD.

“It feels like society has let these young people down,” he said. “It's a real complex issue. It's not something you throw money at. But we have to figure out a solution as a society. And my heart goes out to everyone on this because there are no winners. But I can tell you, unequivocally, if that deputy did not act in the way in the manner he did, there's a good chance he wouldn't be alive.”

He says footage from the deputy’s camera on his dashboard shows Ball came after the deputy quickly.

“It was a steel pipe, approximately three to four feet in length with a metal cap on top of it,” he said. “The deputy was giving commands as soon as they got out of the vehicle. And the suspect sprinted at them. The amount of territory that the deputy retreated in two, less than two-second period was astonishing while Mr. Ball was pursuing him.”

The sheriff added the county is looking into getting a federal grant to increase the capacity of the jail’s mental health unit and provide help for those who may need it, especially for returning veterans.