UPDATE: 10-4-14 The audio recording of the 911 call that lead to the killing of a 22-year-old Utah man may contradict what cops initially said about the incident.
The Guardian reports that Saratoga Springs Police previously said they were called to a strip mall to investigate a “suspicious individual” carrying a sword. But the 911 call (which can be heard above) mentions nothing about Hunt being suspicious.
The caller said Hunt was “just walking” around the strip mall. The Guardian notes that, under Utah laws, Hunt would be legally allowed to carry a sword, even if it were real. The sword was a replica, according to Hunt’s family.
Police have said Hunt was killed after he “lunged” at officers after a confrontation outside a bank. But witnesses said Hunt was running away as shots were fired and the Hunt’s family lawyer said an independent autopsy showed the 22-year-old African-American was shot six times from behind. Lawyer Randall Edwards said the fatal shot hit Hunt in the back.
Edwards also said Hunt was likely role-playing as an anime character when he was confronted by police.
Saratoga Springs Police Chief Andrew Burton told Fox Saratoga Springs the fact that Hunt was walking around with a sword was enough for the 911 operator to label his actions “suspicious.”
“She felt like the caller indicated, ‘Hey the guy’s got a samurai sword,’ which is not something you run into very often so that bit of information caused some concern,” Burton said.
UPDATE: 9-17-14 Darrien Hunt Update: Authorities Change Account Of Police Shooting
Authorities have changed their account of the shooting of Darrien Hunt, a 22-year-old black man, who was shot and killed last Thursday while carrying a sword. Tim Taylor, the chief deputy attorney for Utah County, is now saying that it is unclear whether or not Hunt lunged at police when he was shot.
Initially, he said in a statement Saturday: “When the officers made contact with Mr. Hunt, he brandished the sword and lunged toward the officers with the sword, at which time Mr. Hunt was shot.” But he told the Guardian Monday Hunt allegedly lunged at officers outside a bank, several dozen yards from where he was ultimately killed.
This is the latest fatal police shooting to raise questions about police and racial profiling.
Hunt was allegedly first shot at by police while outside the bank, but it remains unclear if he was struck by a bullet at that point. Hunt then headed north and was shot several times outside a Panda Express before collapsing. “Whether or not the individual lunged again at point two, the other location, I don’t know about that,” Taylor said.
Randall Edwards, an attorney for Hunt’s family, said in an email late on Monday: “This appears to be a major change in the official story.” Hunt’s mother, Susan, said she is now afraid for her surviving son and two daughters. She has accused police of killing her son because of his race. She is white and her husband is black.
“They killed my son because he’s black. No white boy with a little sword would they shoot while he’s running away,” Hunt told the Deseret News.
The family’s attorney said Hunt was shot six times from behind, and the family had a private autopsy taken that shows he was hit once in a shoulder, once in the back, once in an elbow, twice in a leg and once in a hand.
“The shot that killed Darrien, which was straight in the back, did not have an exit wound, it raises the question as to how you can lunge at someone and be shot in the back at the same time.”