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DA's Ruling On Salt Lake Police Shooting Sparks Protests, State Of Emergency

Protesters covered the Salt Lake County District Attorney's office building with posters and paint on Thursday, July 9 after a ruling that the use of deadly force by police officers who killed Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal was justified.
Ross Terrell
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KUER
Protesters covered the Salt Lake County District Attorney's office building with posters and paint on Thursday, July 9 after a ruling that the use of deadly force by police officers who killed Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal was justified.

Gov. Gary Herbert has declared a state of emergency until July 13, following a protest in Salt Lake City calling for justice for Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal. 

About a hundred protesters gathered outside of Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill’s office Thursday evening to speak out against his decision not to charge the police officers involved in the shooting death of Palacios-Carbajal.

Supporters of Palacios-Carbajal and his family have been out protesting nearly every day for the past three weeks, urging Gill to release his report and prosecute the Salt Lake City officers — Neil Iversen and Kevin Fortuna — who shot and killed Palacios-Carbajal on May 23.

Protests were planned before Gill announced that he found the officers’ use of deadly force justified. But after the ruling, protesters headed to his office to hang posters calling for justice and paint the street in front of the building red. 

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill’s office was the target of protesters on Thursday after he announced a ruling that no charges would be filed against the officers who killed  Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal on May 23.
Credit Ross Terrell / KUER
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KUER
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill’s office was the target of protesters on Thursday after he announced a ruling that no charges would be filed against the officers who killed Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal on May 23.

Sofía Alcalá, a protest organizer, said they don’t accept Gill’s ruling.

“We’ve been out here being peaceful,” Alcalá said. “We’ve been out here giving them the chance to do the right thing. And what do they do? They justified it.”

Protesters also smeared red paint on the building and put painted handprints over the posters and windows.

“Sim Gill has blood on his hands,” Alcalá said.

Salt Lake City police officers in riot gear lined up opposite protesters on Thursday evening.
Credit Brian Albers / KUER
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KUER
Salt Lake City police officers in riot gear lined up opposite protesters on Thursday evening.

About an hour and 45 minutes into the protests, police in riot gear showed up. The Salt Lake City Police Department tweeted the decision was made after windows were smashed at the DA’s building and the gathering was no longer considered lawful. Clashes between protesters and the police turned volatile at points, as one officer was injured and two arrests were made. 

However, things were mostly peaceful until police arrived. After law enforcement showed up, protesters formed a line before being charged at by police. The group circled the block one more time before being given a last warning to leave.

The recently formed Salt Lake City Racial Equity in Policing Commission released a statement expressing their condolences to Palacios-Carbajal’s family and community. They said the legal standards for law enforcement using lethal force are too broad.

“There is much work ahead of us to get our city to where we need to be, but we believe in this case the change we need to see is not only possible, but within our collective reach,” the statement said.

Palacios-Carbajal’s family spoke earlier in the day saying they want the officers involved in the shooting to be held accountable.

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