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Rally protests police use of deadly force in Utah, Missouri

Published August 21, 2014 7:17 pm

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This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Protesters who rallied Wednesday night against police use of force in Utah and Ferguson, Mo., demanded more transparency from investigators who are reviewing last week's fatal shooting of 20-year-old Dillon Taylor in South Salt Lake.

"There's two sides to every story, but they know they can't get a story out of a dead person," said Taylor's aunt Gina Thayne, who joined about 80 protesters at the federal building on State Street at 100 South.

The group hopes to see clear answers as to what led to the shooting in footage captured by a body camera worn by the Salt Lake City police officer who shot Taylor Aug. 11 outside a 7-Eleven at 2012 S. State St. Salt Lake City police Chief Chris Burbank announced Tuesday that the footage exists and will be released when the investigation concludes, possibly after several more weeks.

The delay frustrated protesters.

"Why can't we see the film? If it exonerated police, I bet they'd show the film," said Scott Simons, whose daughter Kelly Simons was shot and killed Jan. 9, 2013, by a South Salt Lake police officer.

Aaron Swanenberg, Taylor's close friend, said the pending investigation doesn't relieve the public's need for answers.

"Why can't they release ... whether (Taylor) was armed? Why can't they release the 911 tape?" Swanenberg asked, referring to a report made minutes before Taylor's shooting that a man with a gun was near the 7-Eleven.

South Salt Lake police, who are investigating the shooting because it occurred just inside their city, cited the nature of the ongoing investigation, and jurisdictional issues, in denying a Tribune request for the 911 call late Wednesday. SSLPD acknowledged their investigators did indeed have audio of the call, but argued that because it was technically recorded by neighboring Salt Lake City police dispatchers, they were not a liberty to release it.

On Thursday morning, the Tribune filed a GRAMA (Government Records Access and Management Act) request for the 911 audio, as well as the initial police incident report, with SLCPD. With ours, those requests, too, were denied — again citing the ongoing nature of the investigation.

On Aug. 11, SLCPD officers arrived to find Taylor, his brother Jerrail Taylor and his cousin leaving the 7-Eleven. Investigators have said Dillon Taylor ignored the officers' commands to stop. Jerrail Taylor has said his brother was wearing headphones and didn't immediately hear the officers, who were shouting conflicting commands and shot Dillon Taylor even though he was unarmed and posed no threat.

Court documents show a $25,000 arrest warrant had been issued Aug. 7 for Taylor, alleging he had violated his probation on earlier felony robbery and obstructing justice charges. However, it did not appear officers were aware of the warrant when they came upon the fugitive.

Simons said he still hasn't received investigative reports from his daughter's shooting more than 18 months ago.

"We're here to support you," he told Thayne, who took Taylor into her home after his parents died. "We've been fighting for a long time."

Thayne said she is still dealing with the trauma of seeing her nephew's body after his autopsy.

"That's a vision that will be with me the rest of my life," she said..

Simons said he still hasn't received investigative reports from his daughter's shooting more than 18 months ago.

"We're here to support you," he told Thayne, who took Taylor into her home after his parents died. "We've been fighting for a long time."

Thayne said she is still dealing with the trauma of seeing her nephew's body after his autopsy.

"That's a vision that will be with me the rest of my life," she said.