Lawyer to ask feds to probe Utah police shooting

Lawyer to ask feds to probe Utah police shooting

By Brady McCombs, Associated Press | Posted - Sep. 19, 2014 at 5:21 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — An attorney for the family of a black man who was killed by Utah police said Friday he will ask the Department of Justice and FBI to investigate the shooting.

Lawyer Randall Edwards said at a news conference that it's likely 22-year-old Darrien Hunt was dressed as a Japanese anime character and role-playing when he was shot. That, he says, could explain why Hunt was carrying a sword.

Edwards accused Saratoga Springs police of using excessive force and treating Darrien Hunt differently because he was black.

"I just can't believe that this kid in the costume was somehow posing such a threat to the officers or everybody else that deadly force was the first and only option," Edwards said.

Authorities say race played no role in the shooting. They say officers were reacting to Hunt lunging at them with the steel sword.

Hunt was killed on Sept. 10 in a strip mall after police responded to a call about a suspicious man with a sword.

The Utah County Sheriff's Office, which is overseeing the investigation of the shooting, said it was learning more about what happened but has no indication that race was a factor.

In a statement, prosecutors said it will be several weeks until their review is complete. They declined to provide further details.

The office did, however, release a photo of the sword Hunt carried that day. It shows a blade that is 2 1/2 feet long with a point. The Hunt family previously described it as a play sword with plastic blade.

Edwards said it a decorative sword, not a weapon. He also said an independent autopsy done for the family shows Darrien Hunt was shot six times from behind, with the fatal shot hitting Hunt square in the back.

Authorities have not disclosed the results of an autopsy by the coroner's office or discussed the shooting in detail.

The city of Saratoga Springs said in a statement Friday that officials are confident in the officers involved in the shooting and their training.

The officers were identified as Corp. Matthew Schauerhamer and Officer Nicholas Judson. Efforts to reach them were unsuccessful.

The Department of Justice and FBI said they will review the request for an investigation when it is filed.

Edwards said he has received several phone calls reporting civil rights violations and racial discrimination by police in Saratoga Springs. However, he did not provide the names of the people who called or dates and locations of the events.

Darrien Hunt was recalled Thursday at a funeral as a shy, gentle man who loved art and music and was trying to navigate a difficult transition into adulthood.

In January, Hunt was charged in a domestic violence dispute that Edwards said involved one of his siblings. Most of the charges were dismissed when he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, online court records show.

In 2012, he pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana and was ordered to pay a fine and placed on probation for a year.

Hunt's mother, Susan Hunt, who is white, stood behind Edwards at the Friday news conference and alongside her sisters and spoke briefly, asking for authorities to tell her what really happened.

"The police department hasn't shared anything with me," Hunt said.

Saratoga Springs is an upscale city of 23,000 people south of Salt Lake City. About 93 percent of residents are white and less than 1 percent is black, according to U.S. Census figures.

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Brady McCombs

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