This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
When Darrien Hunt told Saratoga Springs police officers that he needed a ride to Orem just before he allegedly swung a samurai sword at the officers and was fatally shot Cpl. Matthew Schauerhamer told him he would take him if Hunt gave up the sword.
But Schauerhamer later told investigators he had no intention of taking the 22-year-old man to Orem. He offered the ride in an attempt to get Hunt to relinquish the samurai sword, he said in an interview days after the shooting.
Schauerhamer's interview with investigators which reveals new details about the deadly encounter was one of 160 documents released Wednesday from the Utah County Attorney's Office in response to an open records request from The Tribune.
Hunt was shot six times by Schauerhamer and Officer Nicholas Judson after they responded to a 911 caller who reported seeing Hunt walking with a samurai-style sword near Redwood Road and State Road 73 in Saratoga Springs on the morning of Sept. 10.
In his interview, Schauerhamer details how he began to feel uneasy after encountering Hunt and asking him to put his samurai sword on the hood of the patrol car.
"Schauerhamer told me, 'He looked at me just really weird,' and responded in a 'really, really calm, just kind of disturbing voice, 'I can't do that,' " an investigator wrote. "Schauerhamer became emotional as he relayed to me Hunt's response."
When Schauerhamer asked why Hunt couldn't put the sword down, Hunt responded, "It's my sword."
Schauerhamer told an investigator that "the hairs on the back of [his] neck were just standing on end" and he knew "something wasn't right" when Hunt didn't want to comply.
He continued the conversation, asking Hunt what he was doing. Hunt responded that he needed a ride to Orem, and Schauerhamer offered a ride, but added: "You gotta give me that sword."
The conversation between Hunt and Schauerhamer continued briefly while Judson stood nearby. Then, without warning, Hunt unsheathed the sword.
"It was extremely fast," Schauerhamer told investigators. "It was extremely violent. When I saw about a foot of the sword come out of the sheath, I knew that he was forcing our hands, forcing my hand."
Judson later told investigators that Hunt became quiet, there was a short pause, and then the man drew the sword, "taking it upward over his head" and swung at Schauerhamer.
But Schauerhamer recalled that Hunt drew the sword and "jumped" at Judson.
That was when both officers fired their guns: Schauerhamer fired twice, while Judson shot a single bullet.
Hunt then ran away, and the two officers gave chase.
Witnesses • Twenty-six people who watched bits and pieces of the shooting unfold gave statements to the Utah County Attorney's Office, which investigated the fatal shooting. No one saw the event in its entirety, according to the written statements and subsequent interviews.
Some only saw Hunt walking calmly with the sword sheathed, at his side, before police arrived. Several told investigators that they were uneasy because Hunt had a sword, saying they thought it was unusual and strange.
"You see guns in Utah all the time," one witness said. "But I've never once seen anyone walking down the street with a sword. And the way he was holding it, it did make me uneasy. Like if he wanted to do anything in a moment's time, he could."
One man called 911, later telling investigators that it "seemed kind of weird" that Hunt was walking around, carrying a sword.
"Given the time of day, the fact that he was not heading toward any nearby martial arts studios, and the sword itself, I felt like it would be better to be safe than sorry," the caller said later.
Two bystanders saw Hunt swing the sword toward the officers: One said Hunt "took a swipe at the interviewing officer," while another said Hunt "pulled the cover off his sword and swung it at the cop on the side of the car."
A majority of the witnesses saw the moments after shots were first fired, after Hunt began running away from the officers. Schauerhamer fired four more rounds before Hunt collapsed by a nearby Panda Express, the sword flying from his hand and landing several feet away.
"Schauerhamer grabbed Hunt's left hand and felt for a pulse and said to Hunt something to the effect, 'Why did you make me do that?' or 'Why'd you do that, man?' " an investigator wrote. "Judson arrived shortly after Hunt went down."
A worker at a nearby Wal-Mart saw the final moments of the shooting, and told investigators that the last two shots fired by Schauerhamer likely killed Hunt. The worker initially thought the shooting was a drug deal gone bad.
"[The witness] was upset the police had shot the individual the last two times when he was running away," an investigator wrote.
Utah medical examiner Pamela Ulmer concluded that Hunt's cause of death was "multiple gunshots" with the direction of fire 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, "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.
No illegal drugs were found in Hunt's system, according to an autopsy report.
Family • While Hunt was not under the influence of drugs on the day of the shooting, family members told investigators that in the weeks before the shooting, Hunt had been using dimethyltrptamine, a hallucinogen known as DMT. His siblings and mother painted a picture of Hunt as a troubled man who had been acting weird and struggled with depression. He had recently lost his job, and his mother said was planning to ask him to move out of the family home.
Three weeks before the shooting, his mother woke up one morning to find that Hunt had taken all her pictures of Jesus and burned them in a fire pit. It was the last time she knew he had used drugs, she told investigators.
Family members reported that Hunt never talked about hurting himself, but appeared sad and thought the government was manipulating him and telling him what to do.
"K.J. [Hunt's brother] said Darrien seemed crazy to him," an investigator wrote. "... He said there were some days he acted completely normal, but other days he was crazy."
K.J. Hunt owned the "katana" toy sword, and told investigators later that on the morning of the shooting that he saw his brother playing with it in their backyard. He called his mother later that morning, upset at discovering Hunt had left the house with the sword.
Deadly force • During their interviews, Judson and Schauerhamer were asked what weapons they had available to them. Judson had been carrying a Taser and a baton, but said he opted to use his handgun because of the threat level.
"I feared for my life," Judson said. "He had already taken a swing at Matt, he could have easily hacked Matt in the head, neck, anything like that."
Schauerhamer told investigators that his Taser was broken, and he didn't wear it because it caused cysts on his back. He said if he did have a Taser, he would not have used it "in a billion years."
"He had a sword and it was so fast and so violent," Schauerhamer said. "It was so fast and so violent that that was the only option. It was either him or us."
Judson was wearing a body camera, but forgot to turn it on. Investigators examined the camera and did not find any relevant video or indications that any videos had been erased.
Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman ruled that the officers were justified in using deadly force. At a November news conference announcing the decision, he said investigators found "no evidence whatsoever" that race was a factor in the shooting. Hunt's family who have said they plan to file a civil lawsuit against Saratoga Springs has said they believe the officers fired on Hunt, in part, because he was black.
In his interview, Schauerhamer called these accusations "ridiculous."
"A white guy would have been just as dead," he told investigators.
Investigators told Schaerhamer that he had previously impounded Hunt's vehicle in March 2013 for expired registration, and Hunt's mother had called him a "racist" for impounding the car. The corporal read the report and said he did not remember the incident.