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Utah protesters wear bull’s-eyes, decry officer-involved shooting of Darrien Hunt

First Published      Last Updated Feb 18 2017 09:28 pm

Police reports » Utah officer who shot Darrien Hunt wore body cam, but it was turned off.

Saratoga Springs • Responding to newly released reports that a police officer involved in the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Darrien Hunt was wearing a body camera — which apparently was not turned on at the time — protesters on Friday decried Hunt's death and said it was hard to believe anything the police say about the episode.

The protesters wore bull's-eyes on their backs while shouting, "Stop killing our kids," "Stop violating the law," and "Don't shoot us in the back."

The rally, consisting of about three dozen people, took place outside the Saratoga Springs Police Department, but a handful of protesters moved to stand just inside the building's doors. People driving by honked in apparent support of the protesters.

The rally happened to coincide with the release of police reports by the attorney representing the family of Hunt — who was shot and killed in Sept. 10 by two Saratoga Springs police officers — that raise new questions.

Until the release of the reports Thursday night, it has been unclear whether either of the officers was wearing a body camera.

Deputy Utah County Attorney Tim Taylor had previously said he wasn't aware of any body-cam footage, while Saratoga Springs Police Chief Andrew Burton had said he didn't know if either Cpl. Matt Schauerhamer or Officer Nicholas Judson was wearing a camera.

Taylor clarified on Friday that investigators knew Judson was wearing a camera that day, and they knew the officer didn't turn it on.

"There wasn't any footage on it," Taylor said. "... There's nothing there."

Taylor said the camera was analyzed by a forensics lab, which concluded the camera was not tampered with and nothing was deleted from it. The only video on the camera shows Judson sitting in his car one morning, Taylor said.

Burton confirmed Friday that Judson was wearing the camera, and didn't have it turned on. The chief said his department had been experimenting with small cameras, which required a three-step process to begin recording. He said the cameras had little memory space, short battery lives and had been unreliable. Many in the department weren't confident in the cameras, he said, which caused many officers not to use them.

"He's a young officer. He's only been on the road for a month and a half," Burton said of Judson. "When he got a call for a suspicious person with a weapon, he was totally focused on that call. Since cameras aren't routine for us, he immediately focused on that call and he didn't turn the camera on."

Burton said the police department has since received a grant and purchased better cameras. He said that as of Friday, about 80 percent of the force now wears the cameras, while cameras for the rest of the officers are on their way.

"We've never really had anything that's big like this," he said of the police shooting. "So the thing is, now that we've had this situation, our officers are interested in having a camera. They can see the value in having a camera."

Hunt's aunt, Barbara Huston, said at the Friday rally that she "absolutely" does not believe the officer's camera was turned off during the shooting. Noting that Judson is a rookie, Huston said that would make him more likely to strictly follow procedure and turn on the body cam.

Another aunt, Cindy Moss, said it is impossible to believe anything said by the police.

Protester Kevin Irons, of Ogden, does not know the family. He said he attended the rally because he supports finding a solution to the misuse of police power.

"They need to have a civilian review board," Irons said. "They cannot police themselves."

The newly released police reports also reveal that a citizen reported seeing a man matching Hunt's description and carrying a sword the morning of the shooting, and that the man looked "scary and kinda acted weird."

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