Salt Lake City mayor promises ’swift’ investigation after police officer shoots 13-year-old boy; police issue statement on ‘tragic situation’

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall announces updates to police policies, during news conference at City Hall, Monday, Aug. 3, 2020.

Salt Lake City’s mayor is promising a swift and transparent inquiry into the police shooting of a juvenile Friday.

According to police, they were called shortly after 10 p.m. to a home near 500 South and Navajo Street, where a boy having a “mental episode … made threats to some folks with a weapon.” The boy ran and police pursued. One officer shot the boy.

Police have not identified the person who was shot, but family members said 13-year-old autistic boy Linden Cameron was shot several times, and Salt Lake Mayor Erin Mendenhall referred to him as a “young boy” in a statement she released Sunday. He was listed in serious condition.

No weapon was found Friday, and police did not reply to questions about the shooting Monday morning.

“While the full details of this incident are yet to be released as an investigation takes place, I will say that I am thankful this young boy is alive and no one else was injured,” Mendenhall said in her statement. “No matter the circumstances, what happened on Friday night is a tragedy, and I expect this investigation to be handled swiftly and transparently for the sake of everyone involved.”

According to a GoFundMe page launched to help pay for the boy’s medical bills, Linden Cameron suffered injuries to his shoulder, both ankles, intestines and bladder. “Linden is 13 years old. He loves video games, four-wheeling, and longboarding with his older brother, and building things. He is always looking for ways to help people out. Linden is very important to his family, and his mother and brother are supporting him through his recovery.”

Neurodiverse UT, which promotes autism acceptance, issued a statement condemning the shooting.

“Police were called because help was needed, but they met the situation with force — even after they had been informed by the boy’s mother of the situation. ... There are safer, nonviolent methods that first responders can use to help an individual in this situation.”

And a nonprofit group called Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Utah, which trains police officers in crisis response, de-escalation and resolution, noted that media reports indicate the boy’s mother had asked for a crisis-trained officer to help in responding to a “mental health episode.”

“She reported that is not what she received,” the group said in a statement. “This unfortunate incident is an example of why a unified and consistent CIT program is necessary statewide.”

“This can be critical in providing safety and support for the individuals in crisis, their families, law enforcement, and whole communities,” the group said. “Still, best practice CIT is not available in many parts of the state. Communities across the state of Utah should demand consistent responses to these calls.”

Police have released no information about why the officer shot the boy, promising more information will be released within 10 business days when police body camera footage is released — as required by a Salt Lake City ordinance.

But in a brief statement issued late Tuesday, the police referred to the shooting as a “tragic situation” and noted that as per protocol, the incident it would be investigated by a team of officers from outside agencies with no ties to Salt Lake City Police Department.

“We are thankful no lives were lost in this incident,” the statement said.

Parallel investigations would also be conducted by the city’s Civilian Review Board, by the District Attorney’s office and by the police department’s own Internal Affairs, the department’s statement continued.