Two Utah police officers will not face any charges in the shooting death of 22-year-old African-American cosplayer, Darrien Hunt.
On September tenth, two Saratoga Springs police officers– Officer Nicholas Judson and Cpl. Matt Schauerhamer– stopped Hunt, who had been carrying a katana along a populated strip, apparently as part of a samurai cosplay.
But here’s where things get hazy. The only things prior to the shooting that we know for sure are that Hunt stopped and talked with officers, and unsheathed the sword. According to officers and a witness testimony, Hunt apparently swung the sword at the officers, Cpl. Schauerhamer drew his weapon, and Hunt fled. From here, we know the officers pursued Hunt, firing their weapons during the chase.
According to the autopsy, all six shots that found their mark came from behind. Hunt’s family have stated that the sword was a toy, but Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman has stated that the sword had a sharp tip and had not been “intentionally dulled.”
Based on those facts, it would be pretty easy to dismiss this case. However, the witness who testified that he saw Hunt swing a sword at the two officers, Leonard “John” Zogg, stated that his statement was misrepresented in his affidavit, and that he saw Hunt unsheathe the sword, but not swing it.
Security footage shows Hunt running from the police, and the police following in pursuit, shooting, but the confrontation with police was not captured. The footage can be viewed here, but it is somewhat graphic.
Darrien’s mother, Susan Hunt, who is white, believes her son was shot because he was black. Though prosecutors announced that there would not be any charges filed just over a month ago, this unfortunately bears resemblance to more recent racially-charged police killings, such as the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, which have caused large riots and protests throughout the country.
Hunt’s family is currently pursuing a civil lawsuit against the city, and police are considering filing a misdemeanor charge against Hunt’s mother, after a confrontation near the site of the shooting where she supposedly slapped an officer for stopping another individual.
While we may never know what actually occurred, if nothing else, this is another case that suggests that perhaps police officers should wear cameras at all times, which is supported by an incredibly large amount of people, including President Obama. Opinions vary wildly on that, as well, but there’s no denying that, if the two officers had been wearing cameras, the actual circumstances of this case wouldn’t be in doubt, and we would know for sure what happened.