OGDEN, UT — The medical marijuana patient who fired upon a narcotics task force as they raided his home Wednesday night, wounding five police officers and killing one, could face the death penalty when charges against him are formally filed.
Matthew David Stewart, a 37 year old army veteran who suffers from PTSD, and self-medicates with marijuana, was injured in the shootout and remains under police guard at Ogden Regional Medical Center.
Stewart likely faces a charge of aggravated murder, which carries the death penalty, and additional charges of attempted aggravated murder, according to Weber County Attorney Dee W. Smith.
The shooting, which left Ogden Police officer Jared Francom and five other officers wounded, occurred Wednesday night when a dozen narcotics strike force officers attempted to execute a “knock” arrest warrant for a narcotics offense at Stewart’s home. Officers knocked on Stewart’s door and when no one answered entered the house.
Many say that Stewart, a veteran of the United States Army, was simply protecting his home from unknown intruders. Stewart, who worked the overnight shift at a local Walmart, was likely asleep when the police, in full tactical gear, entered his home.
“Why couldn’t they have done a little homework?” asked Michael Stewart, father of the suspect. “If they had, they’d have known he’d be out at 11 o’clock [in the evening],” leaving the house to go to work. He said his son would have been easy to arrest then.
The elder Stewart said his son suffers from mental problems, possibly due to post-traumatic stress disorder. He said his son had never gone to the Veterans Administration to be diagnosed or seek help, but self-medicates with marijuana.
“He should have gone to get help, but in his eyes, it showed you were weak, and he tried to do it himself,” growing marijuana occasionally to self-medicate. Utah does not have a medical marijuana program.
State court records indicate Matthew Stewart’s only criminal conviction was in 2005 in on a misdemeanor charge of operating a vehicle without insurance. He paid a $350 fine.