District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Amber M.
Mettler No. 171911268
L. Welch and Dayna K. Moore, Attorneys for Appellant
D. Reyes and Thomas Brunker, Attorneys for Appellee
David N. Mortensen authored this Opinion, in which Judges
Michele M. Christiansen Forster and Jill M. Pohlman
Around midnight, two cars raced down Little Cottonwood
Canyon, doing 62 in a 40. An officer attempted to stop the
drivers-one of whom was Ryan Andrew Grover-but Grover sped
off while the other driver stopped and later gave
Grover's name and phone number to the officer. The
officer arrested Grover at his house the next day for failing
to stop, and the jury convicted him. Grover contends that the
evidence is insufficient to prove that he knowingly received
the officer's signal to stop. But Grover's contention
collides with the jury's reasonable inference that Grover
indeed knew the officer was signaling for him to stop. We
Around midnight on a fall evening, an officer was driving up
Little Cottonwood Canyon when he saw two cars racing down the
canyon toward him. Upon estimating that their speeds were 60
miles per hour (MPH) in the 40-MPH zone, the officer employed
his radar gun and detected that Grover was driving 62 MPH.
Intending to stop the cars, the officer activated his
emergency lights when the cars were about 150 feet in front
of him. There were no other cars on the road. With the
officer's brightly flashing red and blue lights in the
night's dark sky, the second driver slammed on his brakes
and pulled over about forty feet before reaching the officer.
But Grover continued speeding. As Grover passed the officer,
the officer heard Grover rev his engine and estimated that
Grover accelerated to about 75 MPH. The officer made a U-turn
and pursued Grover, but he had to discontinue his chase due
to a department policy against pursuing fleeing suspects in
the canyons at dangerously high speeds.
The officer then returned to the other driver's car to
investigate. After some questioning, the driver indicated
that Grover was his friend and agreed to tell the officer who
Grover was, disclosing Grover's name and phone number.
The driver then asked, "Is there anything else I can
do?" The officer responded, "[Y]ou should probably
call your buddy and tell him to come back here." The
driver called Grover and told him that the officer was there
and that he should come back, but Grover refused to return.
The next day, the officer went to Grover's home. Upon
arriving, the officer noticed the same car that he had seen
the night before racing down the canyon now parked in the
driveway. Grover answered the door, and the officer asked him
why he did not stop the night before. Grover replied,
"Was that you?" The officer confirmed that it was
and again asked why Grover did not stop. Grover said he
didn't feel he was doing anything wrong. The officer
countered by asking Grover why, if he had not done anything
wrong, he did not stop. Grover replied this time, "I
didn't want to waste my time."
The officer arrested Grover, and the State charged him with
one count of failure to respond to an officer's signal to
stop. At trial, the State called two witnesses-the other
driver and the officer-who testified about these events.
Defense counsel moved for a directed verdict, but the
district court denied the motion. Grover neither called any
witnesses nor did he testify. The jury convicted Grover, and
he now appeals.
AND STANDARD OF REVIEW
The lone issue on appeal is whether there was sufficient
evidence for the jury to conclude that Grover knowingly
received an officer's signal to stop. "On a
sufficiency of the evidence claim we give substantial
deference to the jury." State v. Ashcraft, 2015
UT 5, ¶ 18, 349 P.3d 664. "We review the evidence
and all inferences which may reasonably be drawn from it in
the light most favorable to the verdict of the jury."
State v. Nielsen, 2014 UT 10, ¶ 30, 326 P.3d
645 (cleaned up). "We may reverse a verdict only when
the evidence, so viewed, is sufficiently inconclusive or
inherently improbable that reasonable minds ...