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‘Help! I Can’t Breathe’: Salt Lake City Officer Played Games, Watched TikTok Videos As Black Man Bled to Death on Elevator

Images from body-camera footage show a Utah cop scrolling through social media and playing games on his cellphone moments after he refused to help a Black man bleeding from stab wounds.

The still captured by The Independent shows Salt Lake City Police Officer Ian Anderson sitting on the stairwell where Ryan Outlaw was stabbed, watching TikTok videos on his phone while the man had already been pronounced dead at the hospital. Anderson and his partner Jadah Brown refused to help or even touch Outlaw as he lay on the elevator floor curled up in pain and covered in blood.

What Am I Supposed to Do?': Salt Lake City Officers Stand By and Watch Stabbing Victim Bleed Because They Didn?t Want an Elevator Door to Close. The Father of Four Dies.
Ryan Outlaw, second from left, is pictured with his four sons. (Photo: YouTube screenshot/ Fox 25)

Salt Lake City Police officials had defended the officers’ response, saying they needed to remain in the doorway so the elevator wouldn’t close. Their decisions were “based on their assessment of the situation coupled with their training and experience,” the chief’s spokesperson said. However, the department has now opened a “preliminary review” into the incident.

“At this point, the City is doing a review [of] the facts, policy, and law around this incident and we can’t comment at this time. This is considered a preliminary review only,” a spokesperson said.

Other residents in Outlaw’s building called 911 in November 2020 after hearing the man and his girlfriend, Fernanda Tobar fighting in the hallway. Additional emergency calls were made when a neighbor witnessed Tobar pulling out a knife and starting to stab Outlaw. It took over 20 minutes for Anderson and Brown to arrive on the scene.

The officers questioned Outlaw and Tobar. However, the stabber was the only one who appeared concerned about the victim’s well-being. Anderson tried to coax Outlaw to crawl out of the elevator as he lay crippled in pain.

“You’re not doing anything about it!” Tobar yelled.

“What am I supposed to do?” Officer Anderson responded. “We have medical coming.”

“Help! I can’t breathe,” Outlaw said.

Outlaw’s relatives saw the video footage made public nearly two years after the incident when it was published by Fox13 earlier this month. There were stunned by the officers’ inaction.

“First, we’re hit by this bulldozer and then you are recovering and you do all of these things to cope and time goes by and you come to terms,” said Ryan’s cousin, London Outlaw. “And then all of a sudden you’re hit again because you find out that he could have lived through his injuries if the police had intervened.”

According to a Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training official, all officers are provided basic first-aid, CPR and critical care training. Former Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank said the officers should’ve pulled the man out of the elevator and rendered aid.

Outlaw died at a hospital less than two hours after Anderson and Brown arrived on the scene. About half an hour later, Anderson sat on the stairs and entertained himself on the phone. He was on and off the phone while he and other police officers investigated Outlaw’s death on the scene.

Anderson and Brown are still employed with the Salt Lake City Police Department. Policing expert David Thomas said they could be cited for malfeasance of duty and negligence for not doing their jobs.

Tabor served three months in prison on manslaughter charges and was released on probation on June 23 after admitting to stabbing Outlaw in a jealous rage, but she never reported to probation officials and is currently wanted under a no-bail warrant.

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