This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Saratoga Springs • Responding to newly released reports that a police officer involved in the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Darrien Hunt was wearing a body camera — which apparently was not turned on at the time — protesters on Friday decried Hunt's death and said it was hard to believe anything the police say about the episode.

The protesters wore bull's-eyes on their backs while shouting, "Stop killing our kids," "Stop violating the law," and "Don't shoot us in the back."

The rally, consisting of about three dozen people, took place outside the Saratoga Springs Police Department, but a handful of protesters moved to stand just inside the building's doors. People driving by honked in apparent support of the protesters.

The rally happened to coincide with the release of police reports by the attorney representing the family of Hunt — who was shot and killed in Sept. 10 by two Saratoga Springs police officers — that raise new questions.

Until the release of the reports Thursday night, it has been unclear whether either of the officers was wearing a body camera.

Deputy Utah County Attorney Tim Taylor had previously said he wasn't aware of any body-cam footage, while Saratoga Springs Police Chief Andrew Burton had said he didn't know if either Cpl. Matt Schauerhamer or Officer Nicholas Judson was wearing a camera.

Taylor clarified on Friday that investigators knew Judson was wearing a camera that day, and they knew the officer didn't turn it on.

"There wasn't any footage on it," Taylor said. "... There's nothing there."

Taylor said the camera was analyzed by a forensics lab, which concluded the camera was not tampered with and nothing was deleted from it. The only video on the camera shows Judson sitting in his car one morning, Taylor said.

Burton confirmed Friday that Judson was wearing the camera, and didn't have it turned on. The chief said his department had been experimenting with small cameras, which required a three-step process to begin recording. He said the cameras had little memory space, short battery lives and had been unreliable. Many in the department weren't confident in the cameras, he said, which caused many officers not to use them.

"He's a young officer. He's only been on the road for a month and a half," Burton said of Judson. "When he got a call for a suspicious person with a weapon, he was totally focused on that call. Since cameras aren't routine for us, he immediately focused on that call and he didn't turn the camera on."

Burton said the police department has since received a grant and purchased better cameras. He said that as of Friday, about 80 percent of the force now wears the cameras, while cameras for the rest of the officers are on their way.

"We've never really had anything that's big like this," he said of the police shooting. "So the thing is, now that we've had this situation, our officers are interested in having a camera. They can see the value in having a camera."

Hunt's aunt, Barbara Huston, said at the Friday rally that she "absolutely" does not believe the officer's camera was turned off during the shooting. Noting that Judson is a rookie, Huston said that would make him more likely to strictly follow procedure and turn on the body cam.

Another aunt, Cindy Moss, said it is impossible to believe anything said by the police.

Protester Kevin Irons, of Ogden, does not know the family. He said he attended the rally because he supports finding a solution to the misuse of police power.

"They need to have a civilian review board," Irons said. "They cannot police themselves."

The newly released police reports also reveal that a citizen reported seeing a man matching Hunt's description and carrying a sword the morning of the shooting, and that the man looked "scary and kinda acted weird."

But the witness added that the man was holding the sword horizontally in both hands out in front of him, almost as if he were presenting the sword to someone. The report does not say with whom Hunt was interacting at the time.

Attorney Rachel Sykes — whose office represents Hunt's mother, Susan Hunt, and other family members — said the police reports raise new questions. She said their office is seeking access to the county attorney's entire case file in anticipation of filing a civil lawsuit in the next few weeks.

"I'd like to know why, initially, [it was reported] that there weren't body cameras," Sykes said. "That is something that I'd like an explanation for. It's very, very curious, and I would like a reasonable and thorough investigation and I would like the entire file from Saratoga Springs."

Fellow attorney Robert Sykes has said that based on all of the evidence they have received, they don't believe Hunt showed any signs of aggression that September day.

"The county attorney claims Darrien swung a sword," Robert Sykes said. "From what we know, we don't believe that."

One week ago, Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman announced that his office had determined the officers were justified in using deadly force against Hunt.

The 22-year-old was shot six times by the officers after they responded to two 911 callers reporting a man walking with a sword near Redwood Road and State Road 73.

Buhman said last week that no criminal charges would be filed against either officer, who together fired a total of three shots immediately after Hunt allegedly swung his sword at them.

Schauerhamer then chased Hunt toward another business and fired four more rounds — one of which county attorney investigators believe was the fatal shot.

According to Buhman's written findings, Hunt told Schauerhamer and Judson that he was looking for a ride to Orem.

Schauerhamer said he offered a ride but told Hunt he was not allowed to get into the patrol car with his sword. Members of Hunt's family have called the replica katana sword a "toy" used for cosplay, but Buhman said it had a sharp point and blade.

It was "not sharpened to 'professional' standards, but was not ... intentionally dulled," Buhman said.

After the officers told Hunt he could not take the sword into the car, Hunt, "abruptly, without provocation" swung the sword at the officers, Buhman said, pointing to statements by the officers and by two witnesses near the Top Stop.

"Both officers discharged their firearms to prevent their own death or serious bodily injury," Buhman said. Investigators believe at least two of those first three shots wounded Hunt, who began to run away, still holding his sword.

Schauerhamer gave chase as Hunt approached a Panda Express restaurant. Schauerhamer said he worried Hunt would come around the corner and "hack the first person he saw," Buhman recounted.

"[Hunt] continued to carry in his hand an unsheathed samurai type sword, even after two officers shot at and likely wounded him" and ignored Schauerhamer's orders to drop it, Buhman said.

Buhman said Schauerhamer fired six shots, while Judson fired once.

Utah medical examiner Pamela Ulmer concluded Hunt's cause of death was "multiple gunshots" — with the direction of four of the six shots being "posterior to anterior," or from back to front. Ulmer described the direction of two other bullets, which struck Hunt's arms as, "downward," and "left to right and slightly downward."

Ulmer said one bullet penetrated Hunt's right back and lodged in his lung, while other bullets struck him in the right upper arm, right forearm, left upper arm, left elbow and left hip.

Ulmer found no traces of illegal drugs in Hunt's blood. According to the search warrant affidavit, Hunt's family allegedly told investigators that Darrien Hunt had been making and using dimethyltryptamine, a hallucinogen also know as DMT, in the weeks before the fatal shooting.

Earlier this week, officials with the Salt Lake branch of the NAACP announced that they had asked the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an independent investigation of the shooting of Hunt, who was black.

Branch President Jeanetta Williams said the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had formally asked the federal department last week to conduct an investigation to determine if Hunt's civil rights were violated, whether the tactics used were consistent with police policy and if the use of deadly force was justified.

Twitter: @jm_miller

comments powered by Disqus