05272017
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He brought SWAT to Utah and they killed his son-in-law: The award-winning film directed by BYU professors

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Meet William “Dub” Lawrence. In 1974, he became the sheriff in Davis County, and one year later established Utah’s first SWAT team, after seeing how special police forces helped end riots in Los Angeles. Following a standoff on Sept. 22, 2008 in Farmington, Utah, members of the SWAT team Lawrence established fatally shot his son-in-law, Brian Wood. Lawrence does not think he deserved to die.

“Peace Officer,” a film directed by Brigham Young University professors Scott Christopherson and Brad Barber, shares Lawrence’s story.

The documentary, currently available on PBS, won the SXSW Grand Jury and Audience Awards in the Documentary Feature Competition in 2015.

The events of Sept. 22, 2008, began when Wood called the police to turn himself in for assaulting his wife, Liz Wood, Lawrence’s daughter. When the police arrived, Wood had barricaded himself in his truck with two handguns. After a stand-off lasting several hours, Wood emerged from the truck and was fatally shot.

News broadcasts initially reported Wood had shot himself. Farmington police later confirmed that Wood had been killed in an officer-involved shooting.

As Lawrence investigated the case of his son-in-law he came to the conclusion that the SWAT team had wrongly killed him.

“When I realized that he had assaulted Liz I was angry and I was upset … and I fully expected that Brian would have been convicted and gone to jail,” Lawrence said in the film. “I have no problems with that because that’s justice. I do feel that he did not deserve to die.”

The film documents Lawrence’s journey to find the truth about the death of his son-in-law. The film also investigates other cases that involved deadly force from SWAT teams, including the 2012 Matthew Stewart case.

The film is available on PBS until May 23.

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