Footage from multiple body cameras appears to show a man being shot in the back as he ran away from police earlier this year.
Patrick Harmon was killed by a member of the Salt Lake City Police Department (“SLCPD”) on August 13.
A seven-week-long investigation found no wrongdoing on the part of Officer Clinton Fox, the man who shot and killed Harmon.
Last week, the Salt Lake City District Attorney’s office issued a press release, stating that the shooting and killing of Harmon, “was legally justified.”
In an attached letter–made out to Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera and SLCPD Chief Mike Brown–District Attorney Sim Gill explains his reasoning further, first explaining his decision and then endorsing the controversial police account of the events on the night Harmon was killed.
The letter notes, “Harmon didn’t have a required red rear tail light on his bicycle,” so he was pulled over by Officer Smith. It then claims that,”Officer Smith asked the male for identification and the male gave several different names and spellings,” however, an analysis of the body camera footage by the Salt Lake Tribune takes issue with this version of the story. Rather, the paper claims, Harmon quietly spells his name and Fox requests clarification on multiple occasions–once inputting Harmon’s name incorrectly into a database–before calling for backup. Gill’s letter continues:
Eventually, Officer Smith discovered Mr. Harmon had active felony warrants (one for aggravated assault) and arrested him as SLCPD Officers Fox and Robinson arrived to help. Mr. Harmon broke away from the officers and ran. The officers followed. As he ran, Mr. Harmon said “I’ll cut you,” and turned and faced the officers with a knife. Officer Fox fired his weapon at Mr. Harmon, killing him.
That account does not appear to align with the videos released by the Salt Lake City Police Department.
In none of the videos released can Harmon be seen brandishing a knife or weapon of any sort. Rather, he makes an attempt to flee as he is being handcuffed and does not look back towards the officers or physically threaten them once.
Nor do any of the released videos contain audio of the alleged threat made against the officers–the phrase “I’ll cut you,” is not said by anyone in the footage. In one of the videos, however, Clinton can be heard screaming at Harmon, “I’ll fucking shoot you,” immediately before shooting Harmon three times.
Reaction to the district attorney’s decision not to prosecute–and his endorsed version of events–has been hostile.
Antionette Harmon, Patrick’s older sister, said, in an interview with CNN, “That video is horrifying. It is just not right. I’m not understanding none of this, how it was justified or anything. It’s not fair.”
Response to Gill’s decision has been unpopular in Salt Lake City generally as well.
On Sunday, over 100 protesters demonstrated outside of the district attorney’s office, demanding he be fired, upset with what they believe to be a miscarriage of justice, and for what they see as yet another instance of a black man murdered by a white police officer–and a legal system ill-equipped or unwilling to treat cops fairly and equally.
[image via screengrab]