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Group Gathers to Remember Avenues Man Shot By Police, Calls for Less Violent Policing

Dozens of people gathered at the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building Saturday afternoon to voice concern over the death of James Dudley Barker, an Avenues man who was shot by a Salt Lake City Police Officer on Thursday.

The crowd was a mix of Barker’s friends and followers of the Facebook group Utahns Against Police Brutality.

Chris Manor is with Utahns Against Police Brutality. He says Barker is the latest casualty in a nationwide crisis.

“It’s a social problem in America when we kill at a 100 -1 rate, more than any other industrial countries from police shootings,” Manor says. “So when we think about just another incident in Salt Lake City, we’re really thinking about it in the context of a social problem with a long history.”

At about 3:30 Thursday afternoon, a Salt Lake City Police officer responded to a report of a suspicious male in the neighborhood around I Street and 2nd Avenue asking to shovel snow for money.  The short exchange between Barker and the officer on a neighbor’s porch ends with Barker being fatally shot in the chest.

Barker’s long-time friend Summer Osburn told the crowd, she believes the officer could have de-escalated the situation and it could have ended differently.

“I don’t think they need simulator after simulator of how to kill people,” Osburn says. “Let’s do simulator after simulator of how to understand people.”

Three separate investigations into the incident are currently underway by the Salt Lake City Police Department, the Salt Lake City Citizens Review Board and the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office.

Police have not yet identified the officer involved. He is on paid administrative leave which is a standard policy. Footage from the body camera he was wearing shows barker lunging at the officer with the snow shovel. The camera was disabled during scuffle before Barker is shot. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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