On September 10th, 22-year-old Darrien Hunt was shot and killed by two police officers in Saratoga Springs, UT. The county attorney’s office has claimed that police were forced to shoot Hunt due to him lunging at the officers with a large samurai sword. However, Hunt’s family had a private autopsy performed, and it reveals that Hunt was hit six times with bullets, all from the rear. Also, the fatal shot hit him 100 yards from where he initially was in contact with the officers. Witness accounts from the scene also report that Hunt was running away from officers and none report seeing him go after the police with his sword.
Witnesses at the scene took photos of the encounter. A woman who was at a nearby gas station and snapped a picture of Hunt speaking to the police prior to the shooting. Per the photo, Hunt and the officers are calm with their arms at their sides. She said that a few seconds later, while she was pumping her gas, Hunt was running from the police and they were shooting at him. Hunt was finally brought down with a shot to the back about 100 to 150 yards away from where he was first speaking to police.
Saratoga Springs is an affluent suburban community that is about a half-hour’s drive from Salt Lake City. Racially, the town is overwhelmingly white, with less than 5% of the population being non-white. Hunt was half-black, having a white mother and a black father. He stood out in the community not only due to his color, but also his large afro. At the time of his shooting, he made an impression as he was wearing a bright red shirt and had a sword slung across his back. The two police officers that shot and killed Hunt are white.
Randall Edwards, the attorney for Hunt’s family, claims that the sword that Hunt was carrying around on the day he was killed was actually a toy sword one would win at a carnival. The sword had a blunt edge, was merely for decoration and possessed no real danger to others. Edwards also disputes the notion that Hunt tried to attack the officers with the sword based on the autopsy results and witness accounts saying that Hunt was running away and officers were shooting at him from behind. If the officers felt their lives were in danger, why did they need to chase him over 100 yards and shoot him multiple times while he was fleeing?
Hunt’s mother, Susan Hunt, put it more bluntly when asked about why her son was killed last week.
“I’m in Saratoga Springs, cause it’s a safe little community and they killed him. They killed my son because he’s black. No white boy with a little sword would they shoot while he’s running away.”
Obviously, there are parallels one sees between this case and the case of Michale Brown, the unarmed black Ferguson teenager who was shot and killed by a white police officer while he was giving himself up. While the communities differ wildly — Ferguson is a poorer community where two-thirds of the population is black, Saratoga Springs is a rich, white town — the end results of the shootings are eerily similar. In both instances, a young black man who likely didn’t present a major threat to police was shot at multiple times and killed. Also, both shootings have witnesses who have given differing accounts than what the police have stated.