The family of the 22-year-old black man who was shot and killed by police outside a Saratoga Springs strip mall earlier this month is calling on the U.S. Department of justice to look into the case. Relatives say Darrien Hunt’s civil rights were violated because he wasn’t breaking any laws.
Darrien Hunt’s relatives are asking the Obama Administration to investigate the circumstances surrounding Hunt’s death as well as how local law enforcement have handled the case. His family says Hunt was likely role-playing as a comic book character when he was approached by police the morning of September 10th outside a Panda Express. Hunt was carrying a Samurai-style sword. But Hunt’s Aunt Cindy Moss says her nephew did not break any laws and may have been unfairly targeted because he was black.
“And it looks like the police are not wanting to be forthcoming with the information that they have and so we feel like we need somebody to step in and make it more honest for all of us to try to figure out what happened that day.”
Investigators say Hunt pulled out the sword and swung it at the officers. The family says their own investigation shows Hunt was running from police, noting he was shot six times, all from behind.
Saratoga Police handed the case over to the Utah County Officer Involved Shooting Protocol Team shortly after the incident. Police Chief Andrew Burton said in a statement last week the city and the police department understand the desire for the public to have more information about the case, but they’re unable to provide that information because they’re not conducting the investigation.
Tim Taylor is Chief Deputy Attorney for Utah County. He says the team is still interviewing witnesses and submitting evidence to the state crime lab. He would not confirm hunt was shot six times from behind as the family claims.
“We want to make sure that we’re doing the most thorough job possible and I know that sometimes these investigations take a while and people, especially the family would want answers and we want to give them answers, but we want to make sure we give them the right answers.”
Saratoga Springs Police announced the names of the two officers involved in the shooting: Corporal Matt Schauerhamer and Officer Nicholas Judson. Both have been placed on paid leave by the department.