Police say he “lunged” at them. But an attorney for the family of a man shot and killed by police outside a fast food restaurant in Utah, Wednesday, says an autopsy shows he was shot numerous times in the back as he ran away from officers.
Saratoga Springs police say they were called Wednesday morning, to investigate a “suspicious” man walking near businesses with a “Samurai-type sword.”
22-year-old Darrien Hunt had reportedly been walking in the area of Crossroads Boulevard and Redwood Road near a Panda Express restaurant, a gas station, an auto parts store and a credit union.
“When the officers made contact with Mr. Hunt, he brandished the sword and lunged toward the officers with the sword, at which time Mr. Hunt was shot,” a prepared statement made by Utah County Chief Deputy Attorney Tim Taylor said. The statement came after three days of silence on the matter by authorities.
Randall Edwards, an attorney for the Hunt family, said Saturday that an independent autopsy was performed at the family’s request which shows Hunt was shot “numerous times, all from the rear.”
“This is consistent with statements made by witnesses on the scene, who report that Darrien was shot to death while running away from police,” Edwards said in a statement. “It would appear difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile these facts with a story that Darrien was lunging toward the officers when he was shot.”
Hunts mother, Susan, said the sword was a souvenir sword bought at a gift shop and couldn’t cut anything. She has blamed her sons death on racism. “It was because he was black… No white boy with a little sword would they shoot while he’s running away…” she said.
By all witness accounts Hunt never raised the sword or made any menacing actions towards police.
Officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave. An internal investigation has been launched.
Regarding the allegations of racism, County attorney Taylor said, “There is currently no indication that race played any role in the confrontation between Mr. Hunt and the police officers.”
Update: Utah County Chief Deputy Attorney Tim Taylor has said reports from the Hunt family that the 22-year-old was carrying a toy sword are not accurate.
“It wasn’t plastic, it wasn’t wood,” Taylor said. “It appears to be a real samurai sword.”
In the families defense, they did not say it “was wood or plastic.” Hunts mother simply said it was a “souvenir sword” that “wouldn’t cut anything.”
Update (11/27/2014): Surveillance video has been released showing the events preceding the shooting. While the shooting is off screen, the footage shows Hunt dressed as a samurai cosplaying as a character from a popular anime series.
He was shot six times in the back while he was fleeing for his life. The video contradicts earlier statements by police that Hunt swung the sword at the police officers before they began shooting him.
Hunt was gunned down after running past a Panda Express.