SARATOGA SPRINGS, UT — A young man was fatally shot several times after he took a walk in his neighborhood and someone reported him as being “suspicious.” Questions are being raised about how the police are justifying shooting him six times — all from behind — as he apparently tried to run for safety.
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The fatal incident happened on September 10th, 2014. On that Wednesday morning, 22-year-old Darrien Hunt decided to go for a walk in his neighborhood.
Mr. Hunt was toting a novelty item that he had purchased in a nearby Asian gift shop: a “Samurai-style” sword with a dull edge. Hunt’s family stated that the sword was for display only, and had a rounded edge that could not cut anything, according to KSL.
Carrying the item does not appear to be in violation of Florida weapons law, yet police were dispatched because someone called the government to report a “suspicious person.”
Jocelyn Hansen, who was pumping gas nearby, said that she saw Mr. Hunt walking down the street and that he did not appear “suspicious” to her. She watched as Saratoga Springs police officers stopped Mr. Hunt in front of a convenience store and began questioning him.
The interaction with police was described as calm and non-violent. Mr. Hunt was photographed standing next to a police car, conversing with officers with his hands at his sides.
It is still unclear about how interaction turned violent.
“When I first saw [police] interviewing the young man, I felt like they were very professional. They were keeping their distance, their voices were not raised…” recalled Hansen to ABC-4 News. “I looked up. There were shots, and there was a chase.”
The initial police account stated: “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.”
But eyewitness Jocelyn Hansen said that she didn’t notice his novelty sword, described as a “2×4,” until after the shots were fired, after Mr. Hunt was running away.
The police statements did not account for the second volley of gunfire that erupted approximately 100 yards away, which ultimately killed Mr. Hunt as he tried to get away from the shooters.
An autopsy report confirmed that all six shots struck Mr. Hunt from behind. He was hit once in a shoulder, once in an elbow, twice in a leg, once in a hand, and once in the back.
“The shot that killed Darrien, which was straight in the back, did not have an exit wound,” attorney Randall Edwards told the Guardian. “It raises the question as to how you can lunge at someone and be shot in the back at the same time.”
The attorney also identified “a major change in the official story” that took place when police attempted to justify the second wave of gunfire using the initial “lunge” that allegedly took place before Mr. Hunt began to flee.
That poses a problem with the justification for the shots — in the back — that finished off Mr. Hunt in front of a Panda Express restaurant.
The two officers have been put on paid administrative leave.
Frustrating the victim’s family and inflaming critics, Police Chief Tim Taylor stated that the two officers would not even be interviewed until a week after the incident.
“Those stupid cops thought they had to murder over a toy,” said Susan Hunt, the decedent’s mother. “This is my baby. This is my family. And they ruined my family.”
External security cameras mounted outside a nearby credit union are expected to shed light on the incident.