The family of Darrien Hunt is looking for answers after he was shot for allegedly swinging a fake samurai sword.
According to the LA Times, the 22-year-old was fatally shot last week in Saratoga Springs, Utah, after police responded to a call of a man walking around suspiciously with a sword.
Police confronted Hunt in a mall parking lot, but what happened next is a bit blurry. Police said they shot Hunt after he allegedly lunged towards them with the sword, but the family and witnesses say he was shot in the back – while running away.
The attorney cited independent autopsy results on Darrien Hunt’s body that appear to contradict investigators’ account of what happened outside a Panda Express in Saratoga Springs on Wednesday morning.
Wednesday’s incident began when officers were called to the restaurant after Hunt was seen walking around with a “samurai-type sword,” according to a previous statement from the Utah County Attorney’s Office. Hunt’s family has described it as a harmless 3-foot souvenir sword with a rounded edge.
An independent autopsy conducted Saturday at the behest of Hunt’s family showed Hunt had been shot “numerous times,” none from the front.
This is consistent with statements made by witnesses on the scene, who report that Darrien was shot to death while running away from the police, “Randall K. Edwards, the family’s attorney said in a statement provided to the Los Angeles Times on Sunday. “It would appear difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile these facts with the story released by the Utah County Attorney’s Office that Darrien was lunging toward the officers when he was shot. We continue to hope that a full investigation will reveal the whole truth about this tragedy.”
Some witnesses also said that Hunt had the sword strapped to his back, while others say he had it in his hand. A photograph that was taken at the time of the shooting shows Hunt with his hands by his side.
His mother Susan Hunt, who is white, said her son was targeted because he was black.
“No white boy with a little sword would they shoot while he’s running away,” Hunt’s mother, Susan Hunt, who is white, told the Deseret News. She said a witness had sent her a photo of officers standing on each side of her son just before the shooting.
“I’ve been begging the police, why from the time I saw the pictures of you just standing by him with his hands to his side, does he end up seconds later with a bullet in him?” Susan Hunt told the newspaper. “And then if he’s running [according to eyewitnesses], why you had to put in more bullets, and I don’t even know how many. That’s what I want to know.”
The Utah County Officer Involved Shooting Protocol Team will investigate the incident. The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave.