This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Friends and family of Dillon Taylor held their balloons in the rain Tuesday and watched their clocks. They were waiting for 7:10 p.m., one year to the minute after Taylor, 20, was shot to death by a Salt Lake City police officer.
"It doesn't get easier," said Gina Thayne, Taylor's aunt.
About 60 people hugged and cried at the 7-Eleven where Taylor was killed, and released balloons, lit candles and shared memories.
Taylor's shooting, just two days after that of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., led to a series of protests in Salt Lake City against forceful police tactics. Taylor was unarmed when he was shot in the parking lot of the convenience store, at 2100 S. State Street.
Police had received a report from a 911 caller who wrongly claimed a man matching Taylor's description was carrying a gun. Officer Bron Cruz shot Taylor after Taylor walked away and did not immediately respond to Cruz's orders to put his hands up.
Taylor's hands were inside his pants, and Cruz shot him as he pulled them out, raising his shirt.
Footage from Cruz's body camera shows earphones dangling out of Taylor's pants pocket, where his attorney said his cellphone was found. Taylor's family has said he likely was listening to music and could not hear the officer's orders.
Prosecutors found the shooting to be legally justified, saying Cruz had reasonably believed Taylor had a gun because of the 911 caller's report. Taylor's family has filed a notice that they plan to file a lawsuit against the city.
Taylor's death occurred in the middle of a particularly bloody year for Utah police officers, who shot 22 people in 2014, 14 of them fatally. A month after Taylor's shooting, Utah officers shot three other people in three days. One of those people was Darrien Hunt, 22, who was shot during an encounter with police in Saratoga Springs while he was carrying an ornamental Samurai-type sword, apparently costumed as a comic book character. Police said he swung the sword at them, and they shot him as he ran away.
Hunt's mother, Susan Hunt, attended Tuesday's memorial.
"We need to be here with each other," she said.
As the crowd released their balloons at 7:10 p.m., some cheers went up.
"Rest in peace, Dillon!"
"Love you, Primo!"
Hunt stood next to Thayne as they watched the balloons drift away.
"I wonder if my son is with Dillon," Hunt said.
"That's what I was thinking," Thayne said. Both women began to cry.
Twitter: @erinalberty Taylor: A troubled past, a tragic end •
Court records showed that Taylor was facing a $25,000 arrest warrant for allegedly violating probation he received for robbery and obstructing justice; he was arrested July 31 in North Salt Lake for being drunk and interfering with the arresting officer, prosecutors said.
Taylor also had failed to maintain full employment, complete a mental health evaluation or complete a substance abuse evaluation, all conditions of his probation, according an affidavit.
Taylor expressed an intense feeling of doom, and determination not to go back to jail as a result of the warrant, issued Aug. 7.
"I feel my time is coming soon, my nightmears [sic] are telling me," he wrote that day on Facebook. "ALL my family has turned and snitched on me. I'll die before I go do a lot of time in a cell. I'm trying to strive and live but [I'm] done litrerly [can't] stand breathing and dealing with s-. I feel like god [can't] even save me on this one. ... this time [it's] me and the demons [I'm] fighting."
Third District Court records show that Taylor pleaded guilty to a reduced count of second-degree felony robbery in connection to thefts at a Beto's restaurant and another 7-Eleven in South Salt Lake in May of 2012. Taylor's co-defendant grabbed the tip jar at Beto's, according to court documents. About an hour later, Taylor's co-defendant stole a case of beer at a 7-Eleven at 2700 S. Adams St. (450 East). When the clerk followed him to a car, Taylor placed a hand into his waistband and told the man, "Don't be a hero ... or I'll ... shoot you," according to court documents.
In an unrelated obstructing justice case in August 2012, Taylor threatened a co-defendant in the robbery case, as well as his wife and daughter, and called the co-defendant "a ... snitch," according to court documents.
Taylor received suspended prison terms and probation in both cases.