It’s been a year since 22-year-old Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal was shot and killed by police in Salt Lake City, but his sister says she still feels like it happened yesterday.
Karina Palacios says she wanted to protect her younger brother from the day she first held him in the hospital when he was born.
“He opened his little eyes and I fell in love, he was my baby,” she said to The Salt Lake Tribune at a barbecue in his honor on Saturday.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill ruled that the shooting, which happened when Palacios-Carbajal was running from police with a gun in his hand after allegedly threatening people at gunpoint, was justified. His family disagreed and filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
Palacios was joined by about 70 other people in remembering Palacios-Carbajal on the eve of the anniversary of his death. The group spent several hours in Riverside Park before driving in a car cruise to the graveyard where he is buried.
Songs by Tupac Shakur played over a loudspeaker as people chatted and ate. Some wore shirts with Palacios-Carbajal’s face on them. A group of young men wrapped clear plastic around two trees to create a canvas on which they spray-painted Loske, Palacios-Carbajal’s nickname, in blue letters.
“A lot of people are here ... he touched their lives,” said Palacios.
His 9-year old cousin, Julie, held onto Palacios-Carbajal’s mother and cried at one point in the evening. Palacios said they were close. She said her brother always wanted his own kids, but never got the chance to have them.
As the sun set, people taped posters reading “Justice for Bernardo” onto their cars and set out toward the Salt Lake City Cemetery. They honked and flashed their car lights as they drove through the streets. The group paused briefly in the parking lot near 300 W. 900 South where Palacios-Carbajal was shot before continuing to his grave, where they prayed and laid out flowers and candles.