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Saratoga Springs • Demonstrators demanded answers Saturday in the police shooting death of Darrien Hunt and called for citizen review boards in Utah and throughout the nation.
About 60 protesters, including members of Hunt's family, rallied along Commerce Boulevard, then marched about a half block to the Saratoga Springs Police Department, chanting "Hey, ho, police brutality's got to go" and "Shot in the back for being black."
Many of the demonstrators came from outside the city and had never met the 22-year-old man who police shot and killed Sept. 10 while he walked with what his family called a toy sword. A lawyer for the family said Friday that an independent autopsy shows Hunt was shot in the back as he ran from officers.
"I think anybody who loses someone should be supported," said demonstrator Maddie Scott, a Lehi resident who does not know the Hunt family. "My heart is just aching for the family."
Marchers decried police violence with signs that included Hunt's picture and statements such as "Excessive Power Equals Excessive Force" and "Unjustified."
Petitions calling for civilian boards to review police actions and body cameras for all officers were circulated and have garnered about 12,000 signatures so far, according to Hunt's aunt, Cindy Moss.
Body cameras "will make us all safer," including the officers who do their jobs well, Moss said. The goal of the requested changes is to prevent someone else from being shot, she said.
The fatal confrontation happened when police responded to a 911 call about a man walking with a samurai-style sword near Walmart at Redwood Road and State Road 73. Cpl. Matthew Schauerhamer and Officer Nicholas Judson confronted Hunt at an adjacent shopping area; he was shot near a Panda Express restaurant.
Hunt's relatives have said the sword, which they call a "katana," was a toy. It was metal, but had a rounded blade that would not cut, they said.
They also say Hunt that day was cosplaying, or costumed role-playing, and pointed to similarities between his apparel that day and that of the character Mugen from the popular animé series Samurai Champloo. Hunt's sketchbooks of Manga-style drawings were displayed at his funeral.
An autopsy report by pathologist J. Wallace Graham, a former chief medical examiner for Utah, says Hunt was shot six times and that three of the bullets entered his body from the back. A shot that hit the left thigh traveled from the left of the body to the right, and no direction was listed for the other two bullets that struck Hunt.
The Utah County Attorney's Office, which is investigating the incident, is awaiting the results of an autopsy by the state medical examiner to make a decision on whether the shooting was justified. Tim Taylor, deputy county attorney, has said Hunt did swing a sword at police, but he was not shot at that point and a pursuit followed.
Hunt's grandmother, Maria Jones, said she is "devastated" by her grandson's death. She pointed to the way the Secret Service handled a man who recently scaled the fence at the White House, and wondered why Hunt wasn't treated similarly.
"They wrestled him down. They shoot Darrien, and he didn't do anything," Jones said.
Some of the protesters said they believe the fact that Hunt was black played a part in the shooting. Nick Waitkevich said blacks are stereotyped in Utah.
And Sergio Kurzmann a friend of the Hunt family who was demonstrating with his wife, Cristina, and two of their daughters also thinks race was a factor.
"My wish is that they treat everyone the same," Kurzmann said.
Edward Peltekian, who was carrying a decorative sword as he protested, said the police were negligent in the shooting. He supports paying officers more and making a greater effort to weed out "trigger-happy hotheads" from the force.
Duane Domino, a friend of the family, thinks the protest will help pressure the police to provide answers on why Hunt was shot. Hunt's mother, Susan Hunt, hopes it also leads to change.
"Something good has to come out of this, and not just 'one kid dead and move on to the next story,' " she said.
A police spokesman said Friday that the department could not comment while an investigation is ongoing. No uniformed officers were present at Saturday's demonstration.