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Friday, September 26, 2014

Darrien Hunt: The Police Shooting of a Black Mormon

     Darrien Hunt lived in Saratoga Springs, Utah, a tight knit mountain community in the Provo-Orem metropolitan area in the north-central part of the state. The biracial 22-year-old and his white mother were active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Darrien, an outdoorsman, enjoyed mountain climbing, white water rafting, biking, and hiking. His only scrape with the law came in January 2014 when police officers arrested him in connection with a fight he had with a sibling. The Utah County prosecutor charged Hunt with assault and public intoxication. The prosecutor offered Hunt a deal: if he pleaded guilty, the arrest would be dropped from his record.

     On Wednesday morning, September 10, 2014, someone called 911 to report a "suspicious man" carrying a samurai-type sword outside the closed Panda Express restaurant situated in an outdoor Saratoga Springs shopping mall.

     Corporal Matthew Schauerhamer and rookie officer Nicholas Judson confronted Darrien Hunt outside of the restaurant. According to the police department's account of what happened that morning, Hunt brandished his three-foot sword and lunged toward them. The officers reacted by shooting the charging man several times, killing him on the spot.

     The chief of police placed the Saratoga Springs officers on paid administrative leave pending the results of an investigation by the Utah county attorney's office. A forensic pathologist with the state medical examiner's office performed the autopsy.

     When the medical examiner refused to make the autopsy results available to Randall Edwards, the Hunt family attorney, the lawyer arranged to have an independent forensic pathologist perform an autopsy on Mr. Hunt's remains. (Attorney Edwards has not revealed the identify of this forensic pathologist.)

     Shortly after the second autopsy, attorney Edwards announced that the officers had shot Darrien Hunt six times in the back. According to the lawyer, the autopsy findings confirmed the accounts of eyewitnesses who reported that when he was shot, Mr. Hunt was running away from the officers.

     Saratoga Springs Chief of Police Andrew Burton, on the department's Facebook page, wrote this about the Darrien Hunt shooting death: "There is more to this story than meets the eye. Many of the details cannot be shared due to the ongoing investigation."

     On September 20, 2014, at a news conference, attorney Randall Edwards said that when the officers shot Darrien Hunt, the young man was wearing a Japanese character anime costume (a Japanese film production featuring animated characters) and carrying a fake samurai sword he had purchased at an Asian gift shop. The attorney said Hunt was role-playing and that the sword was a fake.

     According to Edwards, officers Schauerhamer and Judson were not interviewed by investigators with the Utah County attorney's office until more than a week after the shooting. The attorney called for an FBI investigation of this police-involved shooting. 

1 comment:

  1. At least 833 people have been killed by U.S. police since January 1, 2014.
    At least 1585 have been killed since May 1, 2013.
    https://www.facebook.com/KilledByPolice

    ReplyDelete