NAACP Asks Department of Justice to Investigate Darrien Hunt Shooting
The Salt Lake branch of the NAACP is asking the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the death of 22-year-old black man Darrien Hunt. Hunt was shot and killed by Saratoga Springs police officers back in September.
The Hunt Family, the NAACP and attorneys for the family say Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman is withholding key information from the public about the September 10th shooting. That’s why they’re asking the Justice Department to step in. Hunt family attorney Bob Sykes says he believes Saratoga Springs Police officers, Matt Schauerhamer and Nicholas Judson did use excessive force when they shot Hunt six times outside a Panda Express after he allegedly lunged at the officers with a Samurai Sword.
“This is a tragic case and a case that cries out for a solid, fair investigation,” Sykes says. “And I don’t think we had that, sadly from the Utah County Attorney’s office.”
Last week, Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman announced the office ruled the officers were legally justified in their actions.
Jeanetta Williams is President of the NAACP Salt Lake Branch. She says her organization disagrees with Buhman’s assessment. She and other local NAACP members want Justice Department officials to determine if Hunts Civil Rights were violated and whether race was a factor. She hopes the investigation will lead to officers across the state wearing body cameras and changes in how officials review “use of force” incidents.
“The NAACP is seeking transparency and accountability,” Williams says. “We do not want young people to look at police officers as their executioners but as authority of safety.”
Attorney Bob Sykes says the autopsy conducted by the Utah Medical Examiner’s Office indicates some of the shots may have been fired after Hunt was on the ground.
The Utah County Attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the Justice Department told KUER officials will review the letter once it has been received.