Cosplaying Utah Man Was Shot 5 Times From Behind by Police
posted on by Rachel Mahoney
An autopsy performed on Darrien Hunt, the 22-year-old man shot and killed by police in Saratoga Springs, reveals that Hunt was shot five times from behind and had no drugs in his system.
The autopsy report shows that Hunt was shot once in the back, two times in the left hip, and three times in the upper arm. Five of the shots entered from behind, and one of the shots in his hip entered from the side toward the back. A total of seven shots were fired by police, six of which struck Hunt. The fatal shot to his back traveled in an upward direction.
"The direction of fire, as reported in the M.E.'s [medical examiner] report, raises significant concerns about Darrien's position at the time he was shot on the multiple occasions," said Karra Porter, who is representing Curtis Hunt, Darrien Hunt's father. Porter explained that the downward directory raises a question about whether Hunt was shot while on the ground.
Toxicology results from the autopsy were negative. In the report, the officers claim that Darrien Hunt "apparently liked hallucinogens and had taken acid approximately three weeks" prior to the shooting. Porter said she does not know where that information originated.
The state autopsy confirmed the results of a previously conducted, independent autopsy requested by the Hunt family. Hunt's mother insists that the officers involved should face criminal charges. The Hunt family believes that Darrien was cosplaying a character from Samurai Champloo at the time, and that the sword he was carrying was a souvenir katana.
"We believe there was excessive force by these officers and the improper use of deadly force," said Robert Sykes, the family's attorney.
"The accounts on September 10 that were given to the M.E., just do not seem to match up with the facts," said Porter. "Unfortunately, every time we get a new report, the questions just keep rising."
According to the case narrative, citizens called 911 when they saw Hunt walking down the street with the sheathed katana strapped to his back. Police said Hunt began attacking them with his sword and they fired three shots at him. Hunt then began to flee toward a nearby Panda Express restaurant, and collapsed on the ground after police pursued him and fired three more shots. The Panda Express did not have security cameras pointed toward the area where the incident occurred.
"You can't use deadly force on a fleeing suspect,” Sykes said. "He's running from police. They can't have been in any legitimate fear that he was going to harm them.”
The Hunt family also suspects that race played a factor in the shootings.
Deputy county attorney Tim Taylor said that Hunt lunged at police with his sword after a conversation about giving him a ride and asking him to place the sword on the hood of the car. He also said that using deadly force on a subject who is running away is justified in Utah under case law.
"If police believe he is still a threat to the public the shooting can be justified," said Taylor. "I'm not saying that is what we've decided but there have been incidents that allow police to shoot when the subject is running away."
Saratoga Springs Police Chief Andy Burton has denied charges of racial profiling, and said that he welcomes any external investigation. The department identified the two officers in shooting as Corporal Matt Schauerhamer and officer Nicholas Judson. Both are now on paid administrative leave while the Utah County Officer-Involved Shooting Protocol Team investigates the shooting.
Thanks to YotaroVegeta for the news tip.