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PM Brief: Salt Lake police use of force, ordering alcohol online & murder charges in U student case

Photo of a glass of red wine
Wikimedia Commons
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Utah is opening a new wine and liquor store Monday in West Valley City. It will be the first in the state to offer online purchases. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Friday, Feb 25, 2022

State

No extension for Free Fare February

A month of free fares on Utah Transit Authority public transportation is coming to an end and it won’t be extended permanently. A bill to do that, HB 164, did not move forward in a House committee Friday. During Free Fare February, ridership on UTA increased 21% on weekdays and 41% on Saturdays, according to the agency. Clean air advocates said making that permanent would improve air quality. But some Republican lawmakers were skeptical of the impact. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson 

Northern Utah

Salt Lake police release use-of-force statistics 

Salt Lake City Police used force in 985 incidents last year, which is .57% of total calls. While it’s an increase compared to 2020, Deputy Chief Scott Mourtgos said it’s actually lower than what the department would have expected, especially considering the number and types of calls they responded to. Use of force is any time officers apply physical tactics, chemical agents or weapons on another person. Mourtgos said the vast majority of incidents last year were physical force, like forcing someone’s arms behind their back for handcuffs. — Lexi Peery

West Valley City getting new liquor store that will feature online ordering 

Utah is opening a new wine and liquor store Monday in West Valley City. All new stores, including this one, will sell cold beer and other beverages. It will also be the first to offer online purchases. Customers will be able to buy alcohol online and pick it up in the store. Funding for the program still needs to be approved by the state Legislature. Alcohol department officials say they expect the new location to generate $3 million in revenue for the state and contribute about $300,000 in local sales tax to West Valley and Salt Lake County. — Ross Terrell

Man charged in the death of University of Utah international student

A man has been charged with murder in the death of a University of Utah student earlier this month. The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office filed charges against Haoyu Wang in the death of 19-year-old Zhifan Dong. Dong was an international student from China, and was found dead at a Quality Inn in Salt Lake City. In a deposition, her boyfriend Wang said he bought opioids off the dark net for both of them to have a “painless death.” When Dong fell unconscious after taking some of the drugs, Wang told police he injected her with a high dose of heroin. Wang has been charged with one count of first degree murder and two counts of possession with intent to distribute. — Caroline Ballard 

Region/Nation

Mountain West state of the states focused on education and housing

The state of the state address is an American political tradition. Western governors have outlined goals for 2022, and one common theme this year was education. Every governor in the region touted efforts to improve schools — by raising teacher salaries, improving literacy rates or creating new pathways to an education. Housing was another major theme. The West is growing fast and housing costs are rising dramatically for buyers and renters. Governors proposed a range of solutions, from building more affordable homes to providing rental aid. They also spoke about improving healthcare, especially for mental health. — Dave Rosenthal, Mountain West News Bureau

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