Loved ones remember Dillon Taylor seven years after he was fatally shot by police

Family, friends and others gathered at Taylor’s mural near 300 West and 900 South for a vigil on Aug. 11.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Josh Siegel, writes a message next to the mural of his brother, Dillon Taylor, who was shot by the police 7 years ago. Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021.

As children painted their hands and pressed them on a wall around Dillon Taylor’s face, his family, friends and others gathered on Wednesday night near 300 West and 900 South for a vigil on the seventh anniversary of his death.

Dillon Taylor, 20, was fatally shot by police on Aug. 11, 2014. Taylor’s face now joins others who were killed by police, like Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor on a mural.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Max Thayne 8, puts is hand prints on the wall, near the mural of Dillon Taylor, during a memorial for Dillon, on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021.

“I feel like we go three steps forward and two steps back a lot of times,” said “Mama Gina” Thayne, Taylor’s aunt and last legal guardian. “I’ve been trying to fight for different changes, and it just hasn’t happened. Every time somebody else is killed, it’s like rubbing salt in every justice family’s wound. Something has to be done and there has to be accountability.”

“There needs to be police reform, and that means that they need to take away immunity from police officers, qualified immunity,” Thayne said. “It’s time for somebody to stand up and take a stand here.”

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit from Taylor’s family filed against Salt Lake City in 2019, saying that because the city officer didn’t violate any laws or constitutional rights by shooting and killing Dillon Taylor, the city couldn’t be held liable for the officer’s conduct.Salt Lake County prosecutors determined the shooting was legally justified because a 911 caller near the store had said Taylor and people he was with were “flashing” a gun.

When the officers confronted Taylor, he didn’t immediately respond to Officer Bron Cruz’s orders to stop and show his hands, according to police.

Instead, officers say, he kept his hands in his pants and tried to walk away. When Taylor did turn around and pull out his hands, Cruz shot him twice. Taylor didn’t have a gun and was wearing headphones attached to a phone in his pocket when he was killed.

Thayne, Dillon’s brother Jerrail Taylor and Dillon’s friend Josh Siegel all agree that the vigil is more for others to remember Dillon, since they’ll never forget him.

“This is just the time for other people, everyone else — it brings power, it brings light back on to his name every year,” Siegel said. “For me, I mourn every day. Every morning [when] I wake up, every night [when] I go to bed, I mourn him and I miss him. Life’s never been the same.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Dillon Taylor's brother, Josh Siegel, during a memorial for Dillon Taylor, on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021.

“[He was my] best friend in the whole world,” Jerrail said. “[We] did everything together, no matter what it was, [we] did everything together. Anything and everything.”

Since Dillion’s death protests across the country have brought national attention to police reform and to fatal police shootings, like those of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Siegel said it’s about time people are paying attention to these issues.

“I’ve been out in the streets fighting for police reform for the last seven years,” Siegel said. “When Dillon Taylor, when Darrien Hunt… When all these people died seven, eight years ago in our community, no one was fighting. No one was there with us. We were out there doing it seven years ago, and every year since. So it’s about time that people are realizing it’s a problem that needs change. But for me, it’s been something that’s gone on for more than half a decade now.”

“[Justice] is all we want,” Jerrail said.