Law Enforcement

Autopsy, Witnesses Raise Questions about Police Shooting in Saratoga Springs


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(KCPW News) Last Wednesday, Saratoga Springs police officers responded to reports that a man, later identified as 22-year-old Darrien Hunt, was wielding a samurai-style sword in public. After an encounter with police, Hunt was shot and killed when he allegedly “lunged” towards the officers with his sword.

But an independent autopsy performed at the behest of Hunt’s family raises questions about a law enforcement account of the incident—and could confirm what eye-witnesses saw on the scene.

For more, here’s KCPW’s Ryan Cunningham.

Update: Saratoga Springs Police Chief Andrew Burton has released a statement on this incident. Here it is in its entirety:

Last week, officers of the Saratoga Springs Police Department were dispatched to a situation where deadly force was used. When an officer involved shooting takes place, a certain protocol is immediately invoked requiring notification of the Utah County Officer Involved Shooting Protocol Team and the Utah County Attorney’s Office. That notification was immediately made and the Protocol Team assumed responsibility for the investigation.

Immediately upon learning that our police department was involved in an officer involved shooting incident, we made the appropriate notifications to the Utah County Officer Involved Shooting Protocol Team. The Protocol Team then immediately responded to the scene and assumed conduct of the investigation. That team consists of investigators from the Utah County Attorney’s Office and other law enforcement agencies from within Utah County. The Saratoga Springs Police Department is not part of that investigative team. Additionally, immediately upon learning that there was a shooting in Saratoga Springs, other law enforcement agencies responded to the scene, further bringing a level of outside involvement of independent agencies. The Saratoga Springs Police Department and those agencies on the scene cooperated with and turned the scene over to the investigators of the Utah County Officer Involved Shooting Protocol Team. From that moment, the Protocol Team has had responsibility for the investigation.

The investigation of such an incident is extremely complicated and very in-depth. The investigation team must gather evidence, identify witnesses and collect witness statements, and collect any other type of evidence. Then dozens of interviews must be conducted. The evidence must be forensically analyzed and other laboratory tests must be completed. An official autopsy by the Utah State Medical Examiner is conducted. The Medical Examiner’s report, including lab results, such as toxicology tests, are completed and given to the County Attorney. Sometimes a reconstruction of the situation may be completed. All of the witness statements, evidence and other material must then be carefully and methodically examined and reviewed. This process is time consuming. Once the Protocol Team has completed its investigation, the results of the investigation are then given to the County Attorney for a comprehensive analysis and review. The County Attorney then makes a determination whether the officers were justified is using deadly force based on Utah law. It is difficult to determine how long such a comprehensive process would take.

The City of Saratoga Springs and the Saratoga Springs Police Department understand the desire on the part of the media, the family, and the public for more information about what occurred. However the City and the Police Department are unable to provide that information concerning the investigation because we are not conducting the investigation and cannot appropriately answer the questions. These questions must be answered by the Utah County Officer Involved Shooting Protocol Team. We fully support an independent and unbiased investigation. Our inability to respond to this situation has caused much frustration, not only for the media and the public, but to the City and the Police Department, which culminated in remarks by our Police Department regarding the media coverage on the police department social media page. We apologize for this comment and have removed the comment. We ask the media and the public for patience and understanding of our position and lack of ability to answer all the questions posed at this time. Any further questions concerning the case should be directed to the investigative team of the Utah County Officer Involved Shooting Protocol Team and the Utah County Attorney’s Office.

The City of Saratoga Springs would like the investigation to be concluded quickly. However, the integrity of an investigation is paramount to an accurate outcome, and patience and commitment are required. The City supports the Protocol Team to ensure that a thorough, independent and unbiased investigation is conducted.

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