New video released by the Utah County Attorney's Office shows Darrien Hunt, a 22-year-old black man, apparently running for his life moments before two white police officers shot and killed him.
Warning: Graphic footage of the chase:
The shooting is one of several high-profile police shootings this year that have put a spotlight on racial disparities in law enforcement. In Ferguson, Missouri, a police officer killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in a shooting that led to nationwide protests. In Ohio, 22-year-old John Crawford and 12-year-old Tamir Rice were both killed because police mistook toy guns they were carrying for actual weapons. In all these cases, police officers were criticized for overreacting to people who appeared to present no significant threat.
At the time of his death, Hunt was dressed up as a Japanese samurai (what's called "cosplaying") and wielding a decorative sword. Police said he became violent and attacked them with the sword when they tried to take it away, but an autopsy found four of six gunshot wounds hit Hunt on his back.
The police officers involved won't face any criminal charges. Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman found the officers who shot him, Saratoga Springs Corporal Matthew Schauerhamer and Officer Nicholas, to be "justified in their use of deadly force against Mr. Hunt. Their belief that deadly force was necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury was reasonable."
The county attorney's justification directly references the low legal bar police have to meet to justify a shooting. Officers don't have to prove a shooting victim was an actual threat. Instead, cops only have to show that they had an "objectively reasonable belief" that their lives or the lives of others were in danger.
Some critics argue this low legal standard is the root cause of so many seemingly unnecessary police shootings — and the problem in some ways appears to be getting worse. A recent report from the Salt Lake Tribune found Utah police officers have killed more civilians than gang members, drug dealers, or child abusers have over the past five years.