OGDEN, UT — Matthew David Stewart, the Utah man who fired at a narcotics task force as they raided his home, killing one officer and wounding 5 others, had 16 marijuana plants growing in his home, according to court documents filed on Tuesday. This is the first time law enforcement has disclosed details from the investigation that led to the January shootout.
The Weber County Attorney’s Office said Tuesday that they are filling paperwork seeking to permanently seize Stewart’s home, the site of the shooting, under Utah’s Controlled Substances Act because of the 16 marijuana plants Stewart was growing at the time of the raid.
Police say they discovered a marijuana grow operation in Stewart’s basement, which included artificial lighting and a water system. The statement did not specify the maturity of the plants or if they were found harvested.
Matthew David Stewart, a 37 year old US Army veteran, has been charged with aggravated murder for the death of Agent Jared Francom during a botched raid on Stewart’s home, and prosecutors will seek the death penalty in the case. He is also charged with seven felony counts of attempted aggravated murder for shooting at seven other officers from the the Weber-Morgan Metro Narcotics Strike Force, five of whom were injured.
The Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force was serving a search warrant on Stewart’s home Jan. 4. Police say the strike force repeatedly knocked and announced their presence and when no one answered they entered the home. Prosecutors have alleged that officers were able to clear the main floor and basement of the home before Stewart emerged from a hiding spot and began shooting with a 9 mm pistol.
Stewart, who was worked the overnight shift at a local Walmart at the time of the incident, says he was asleep when the strike force entered his home shortly after 8pm on the evening of January 4th, and didn’t hear the police knock or announce themselves. He awoke to the sound of breaking glass and intruders in his home, and that was when his army training instinctively took over.
“When you’re convinced that you are getting robbed and most likely killed by a group of armed men, your instincts kick in,” Stewart told the Salt Lake Tribune in February. “All I knew for sure is they were there to rob and kill me.”
Stewart was shot twice by police in the incident, and remains held without bail in the Weber county jail. The five wounded officers have since recovered from their wounds and have been released from the hospital.
The same Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force was caught on video fatally shooting 45 year old Todd Blair in a similar raid on his home in September 2010. The video shows police kicking in the front door yelling “Police! Search warrant!” In the video, Blair is seen emerging from his bedroom, no doubt startled by the commotion and sudden intrusion in his home, holding a golf club above his head. He is instantly fired upon by a police officer and drops to the ground. There is no calls from the officer to drop the weapon, just three gunshots, killing Blair. A search of the home turned up a small amount of marijuana.