Originally published on January 5, 2015, at NationofChange.org
The family of a young man carrying a souvenir sword has filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging police officers used excessive force when gunning down their son. Contrary to initial reports, 22-year-old Darrien Hunt had been running away from the officers when they shot him to death. Although the officers were equipped with a body-cam, a lapel microphone, and a dash-cam, none of the devices recorded the incident.
Around 9:45am on September 10, 2014, Darrien Hunt was walking in front of a Top Stop gas station when two Saratoga Springs police officers approached him. Responding to a 911 call about a suspicious person carrying a samurai-type sword, Cpl. Matthew Schauerhamer and Officer Nicholas Judson confronted Hunt who had been cosplaying as the character Mugen from the anime series “Samurai Champloo.”
Included in Hunt’s autopsy report is a narrative of the shooting based on information gathered from Utah County attorney’s office investigators Gregg Knapp and Mark Dell’Ergo. According to the narrative, the first officer exited his vehicle and Hunt charged at him swinging the replica sword. But an eyewitness named Jocelyn Hansen took a photo of Hunt speaking calmly with the officers before hearing gunshots.
“When I first saw [police] interviewing the young man, I felt like they were very professional. They were keeping their distance, their voices were not raised…” recalled Hansen. “I looked up. There were shots, and there was a chase.”