SALT LAKE CITY — A large group of protesters gathered downtown Wednesday to call for justice in the fatal police shooting of a man in Salt Lake City, and to raise their voices against brutality and militarization among police agencies everywhere.
“We will never see our kid smile again,” said Gina Thayne, an aunt who raised Dillon Taylor for six years. “Dillon will never smile at us again.”
Investigators said officers were responding to a report of a man waving a gun on Aug. 11 near the 7-Eleven at the corner of 2100 South and State Street and shot Taylor. Taylor, according to police at the time, failed to comply and was “visibly upset.”
Police have yet to disclose whether Taylor was armed, but Thayne said Wednesday he was not.
“He had no gun, no weapon, nor did he portray that he did,” Thayne said. “I’m absolutely devastated, and so is our entire family.”
Thayne was flanked by people like Scott Simons, who lost his daughter, Kelly, in a Jan. 9, 2013 police shooting involving the Joint Criminal Apprehension Team.
“She had no charges, no warrant, she was unarmed, had no criminal record,” Simons said. “The tactics and level of force they used there just was uncalled for.”
The demonstrators, who huddled near the corner of 100 South State next to the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building, also demanded the removal of National Guard troops from Ferguson, Missouri, following the deadly police shooting of an unarmed man there.
"We don't know how many people are being killed every year by the police. We can only speculate, but there's a lot of people being killed by police, and especially unarmed people."
“That is bringing national attention to this issue,” Simons said of the Ferguson shooting. “We don’t know how many people are being killed every year by the police. We can only speculate, but there’s a lot of people being killed by police, and especially unarmed people.”
While protesters drew some parallels between the Ferguson shooting and the Taylor shooting, Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank emphasized Tuesday in an interview on KSL NewsRadio that “this is not Ferguson,” and that Salt Lake City has shown people can speak their minds and have civil disagreements.
Police had no further comment about Wednesday night’s demonstration.
Five different investigations are currently underway looking at the Taylor shooting.
A South Salt Lake police spokesman said Wednesday he did not know when that department’s review of the case would be complete.
Protesters said the Dillon Taylor and Ferguson shootings are examples of why things need to change.
“Just because you have a badge and a gun doesn’t give you the right to take somebody else’s rights away,” Thayne said.