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Relatives of man shot by Salt Lake City police officer settle their part of wrongful death suit

Published April 28, 2016 12:20 pm

Courts • Dillon Taylor, 20, was unarmed when Officer Bron Cruz fatally shot him in 2014.
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The brother and cousin of Dillon Taylor — who was shot to death in 2014 by a Salt Lake City police officer — have settled their portion of a federal lawsuit against Salt Lake City, South Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County.

The three entities jointly paid a total of $85,000 to the brother, Jerrail Taylor, and the cousin, Adam Thayne — who claimed they were unlawfully detained by police after the shooting, said attorney Brian Bolinder, who represents South Salt Lake City.

Jerrail Taylor and Thayne were handcuffed for hours after the shooting despite requests to remove the handcuffs, and both were detained for more than five hours even though neither was suspected of a crime, the lawsuit claims.



The portion of the lawsuit in which the family of Dillon Taylor is suing Salt Lake City is ongoing, Bolinder said.

"It's a good resolution, and we are pleased to be able to come to this agreement with the parties," Bolinder added.

"The family is pleased with the resolution. They are specifically happy with the government entities' willingness to engage in additional voluntary training," said Robert Cummings, one of their attorneys. "The attorneys are appreciative of the government's attorneys and their willingness to come to the table and getting these claims resolved early on."

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, claims Salt Lake City police officers are "improperly trained and groomed through a vicious culture and cycle of shoot-to-kill first, avoid questions and accountability later."

Taylor, 20, was unarmed when Officer Bron Cruz fatally shot him Aug. 11, 2014, outside a convenience store near 2100 South and State Street.

"Citizens expect consequences and not cover-up when unarmed teenagers like Dillon are killed because of the irrational subjective perceptions of 'defiance' by trigger-happy law enforcement," states the lawsuit.

Prosecutors found the shooting to be legally justified because a 911 caller near the store had said Taylor, his brother and his cousin were suspicious and "flashing" a gun; when the officers found the trio at the store, Taylor did not immediately respond to Cruz's orders to stop and show his hands, instead keeping his hands in his pants and walking away.

When Taylor did turn around and pull out his hands, Cruz shot him twice, once in the chest and once in the abdomen. Taylor later was found to be carrying no gun, but he was wearing headphones, apparently attached to a phone in his pocket.

However, the lawsuit claims Cruz exposed another motive for shooting Taylor in a follow-up interview with investigators: "His eyes were just complete 100 percent defiance," Cruz said of Taylor. He had ... this look on his face like, you know, like ... hate? ... Just hate, defiance, that he had in his eyes."

In the lawsuit, Taylor's family describes the explanation as "shocking, despicable" evidence of an "entrenched departmental detachment from human life and the consequences of excessive deadly force."

That detachment begins in the earliest days of officer training, the lawsuit claims, pointing to a "gruesome, horrific" video that is shown to all cadets in the state's police academy to make officers needlessly fearful of the public.

The video depicts "shocking and violent deaths of police officers at the hands of alleged criminal assailants," the lawsuit claims.

"The rationale behind the [academy] video is to instill in officers the unrealistic fear that every time they put on their badge, they could be going to a grisly death," the suit states. "Police officers are trained — either explicitly or implicitly — to view all citizens as potential enemy combatants, and to approach all encounters with them from the perspective that each and every one could lead to the officer's death. Those officers come to accept as fact an extreme and irrationally aggrandized view of the risks inherent in their job as a police officer ... and that any hesitation or judicious use of restraint will result in their death."

 

 

 

 

 

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