Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Police for Shooting Son in the Back

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.”

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16 Unarmed Black People Killed by Police this Year

Originally published on December 13, 2014, at NationofChange.org

At least 16 unarmed black people have been killed by police officers this year including a woman and two children. According to law enforcement officials, these people lost their lives in instances of poor police training, miscommunication, justified tactics, and excessive brutality. Although the majority of unarmed individuals killed by police this year have been black, officers have also been killing unarmed people of other races.

On January 16, Jordan Baker was allegedly killed in a case of mistaken identity. Working off-duty as a mall security guard, Houston PD Officer Juventino Castro confronted Baker because he fit the description of some robbery suspects who had recently held up three stores while wearing black hoodies. Castro claims Baker charged at him, forcing the off-duty officer to shoot Baker to death. A grand jury is deciding whether to charge Castro with killing Baker.

In August, North Augusta Public Safety Officer Justin Craven was charged with misconduct in office for gunning down a 68-year-old unarmed man named Ernest Satterwhite. After a slow-speed chase that ended in Satterwhite’s driveway on February 9, Officer Craven ran up to Satterwhite’s car door and shot him to death. The prosecution sought to charge Craven with voluntary manslaughter, but the grand jury indicted him on a misdemeanor instead. Satterwhite’s family has filed a lawsuit alleging Craven had disobeyed orders and lied about Satterwhite trying to grab his gun.

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