Ian De Oliveira can watch only a few seconds of body camera footage that includes the fatal shooting of Patrick Harmon by a Salt Lake City police officer before he has to look away.
“Every time I see that first few seconds, I see something that makes me incapable of continuing,” De Oliveira said at a Black Lives Matter rally Sunday. “I see a man who knows what the future holds for him in that situation... I see that this is a man who knows that he’s staring death in its face. I see a man who’s terrified.”
De Oliveira and other speakers at the rally called for accountability in the death of Harmon, a 50-year-old black man, who was killed in August as he ran from officers. They said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, who ruled last week that the shooting was legally justified, should be fired and Officer Clinton Fox, who shot Harmon, should be prosecuted.
A crowd of about 150 people attended the rally, held in front of the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building. They carried signs with slogans including “Police are Murderers! Arrest them” and “Racial Justice Needed,” and chanted, “Whose streets? Our streets” and “Indict, convict, send the killer cop to jail.”
Speaker Mac Allred said he wants an outside prosecutor and “honesty.”
“If there is no justice, there will be no peace,” Allred said.
Lex Scott called for Gill to file criminal charges in Harmon’s shooting; for all bodycam footage to be released unedited with sound within 24 hours of an officer-involved shooting; and for a civilian review board with the authority to bring charges against police.
Gill released a report Wednesday that said the use of deadly force was justified, and he declined to file charges against Fox. The report says Fox shot Harmon after he produced a knife and threatened to cut or stab officers who were chasing him.
Also released Wednesday was footage from police body cameras, which protesters assert show that the shooting was not justified. The Salt Lake Tribune has posted only one of the three videos that were released because of their graphic content.
Warning: Video contains graphic content
Harmon was shot on Aug. 13 at 1002 S. State. The deadly encounter began about 10:20 p.m. when a patrol officer saw him ride a bike — which did not have a required red tail light — across all six lanes and a median of State Street, the district attorney’s report says.
The officer called for backup and and two other officers arrived. When a check of a database found warrants for Harmon, including one for aggravated assault, the officers tried to handcuff him but he ran.
As Harmon was fleeing, he threatened to stab the officers, then turned and faced his pursuers, the report says. Fox — who told investigators he saw a knife with the blade exposed and believed his life and the lives of the other police were in danger — fired his weapon three times.
Harmon was given first aid by police, then taken to a hospital by ambulance, where he was pronounced dead a short time later. Investigators found a knife on the ground at the scene, the report says.
Gill on Sunday adamantly denied accusations made at the rally and on social media that Harmon was shot in the back.
He said the bullets struck Harmon in the arm, the side and the left hip area. In addition, a slowed-down version of a video shows Harmon turning and pivoting toward Fox, closing the distance between the two men, according to the district attorney.
Gill also stressed the law required him to review an investigation done by an independent task force to determine whether Fox was in fear for his life when he fired his weapon and whether his fear was reasonable.
In this case, it was, Gill said.
“I can’t say that Fox’s perception was unreasonable when he feared for his life,” Gill said.
According to court records from November 2016, the most recent address for Harmon was The Road Home shelter.
About 80 demonstrators held a rally on Sept. 30 at the public safety building calling for the release of more information about the shooting, including the body camera footage. Activists with Black Lives Matter and Utah Against Police Brutality also staged a call-in on Sept. 29 at the offices of Biskupski and Police Chief Mike Brown calling for transparency and the footage’s release.