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An attorney for Saratoga Springs has asked a federal court judge to enforce a settlement agreement in the death of Darrien Hunt who was killed by police last year which the man's mother said she had rejected.
Susan Hunt said last month at a rally marking the anniversary of her son's death that she had turned down a $900,000 offer to settle her lawsuit against the city and two of its officers.
The settlement would have barred her from commenting about the case, according to Susan Hunt, who said that provision was unacceptable.
"That's not going to clear his name," she said at the Sept. 10 gathering. "And I could not, in good conscience, agree to that."
But attorney Heather White said in a motion filed last week in U.S. District Court that the parties had agreed on a settlement amount in early August and a check was sent to Susan Hunt's counsel, Robert Sykes, on Aug. 21.
Sykes and the city's attorneys had emailed back and forth a number of times on Aug. 17 about payment instructions and a news release to announce the settlement, which City Manager Mark Christensen signed off on two days later.
On Aug. 21, an attorney representing the city attorney emailed Sykes to say, "I have the settlement check."
Darrien Hunt's father, Curtis Hunt, signed the settlement on Sept. 15, but there is no indication in the city's motion that Susan Hunt signed it.
In fact, White said in her motion that after those Aug. 17 email exchanges between the parties, the plaintiffs and their attorneys "went silent" until Sept. 10, when Susan Hunt told reporters at the rally that she had rejected the settlement.
White said she was unaware Hunt had on Aug. 28 fired Sykes, who on Sept. 18 filed a motion to withdraw as Hunt's counsel.
White said that despite Susan Hunt's "change of course," the court should enforce the settlement agreement.
White also asked the court to order Hunt to reimburse Saratoga Springs for attorney fees in connection to their motion, claiming Hunt had "defied the confidentiality agreement provision of the settlement agreement" by telling the media she had not agreed to the settlement and by saying that the city was paying "hush money" and implementing a "gag order."
"Not only has this smeared the defendants in the media, it has needlessly prolonged this litigation and caused the defendants to incur additional costs," White wrote.
Darrien Hunt, 22, was fatally shot at about 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 10, 2014, after Saratoga Springs Cpl. Matthew Schauerhamer and Officer Nicholas Judson confronted him in response to a passerby's 911 call to report a man with a "samurai" sword who was walking at Redwood Road and State Road 73.
Hunt's relatives say Hunt was cosplaying or costumed role playing as a cartoon character and carrying a sword that was not a weapon, but a costume accessory with a rounded blade.
The officers say they fired several shots after Hunt swung the sword at them, and they gave chase when he ran away from them. Schauerhamer fired several more rounds during the chase before Hunt who was shot six times collapsed near a restaurant at 1413 N. Redwood Road.
The Utah County Attorney's Office ruled the shooting justified.
Susan Hunt filed the civil rights lawsuit against Saratoga Springs in January in Salt Lake City's U.S. District Court.
Sykes said during a news conference announcing the lawsuit that one of the most important concerns was that the biracial man was shot in the back while he was likely falling or already on the ground after he running away from the two officers.
At the September rally, Hunt said she had hired the law firm of the late Johnnie Cochran to represent her in the federal lawsuit. When contacted Wednesday, the Cochran Firm in Southern California could not find a Susan Hunt in Utah listed among its clients.
Hunt could not be reached for comment.
A Utah firm, that now appears to be representing Hunt, also did not respond for comment.