'They killed my son because he's black,' Saratoga Springs mom says
City says allegations are unfounded, but won't say what prompted shooting
Michelle Tessier, Deseret News
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The mother of a Saratoga Springs man shot and killed by police this week believes the situation would have had a completely different outcome if her son were white.
"I'm in Saratoga Springs, cause it's a safe little community and they killed him. They killed my son because he's black. No white boy with a little sword would they shoot while he's running away," an emotional Susan Hunt said while crying Friday.
"Those stupid cops thought they had to murder over a toy. This is my baby. This is my family. And they ruined my family."
Darrien Nathaniel Hunt, 22, of Saratoga Springs, was shot and killed by police Wednesday morning. Hunt was carrying what has been described by police as a Samurai sword.
But police have released absolutely no information about what prompted two Saratoga Springs police officers to shoot the man and very little information about the crime scene.
A spokesman for the city released a brief prepared statement Friday afternoon to respond to the allegations of racial profiling:
"We sympathize with Mr. Hunt’s family during this difficult time. Any claim that our officers’ actions were a result of Mr. Hunt’s race are completely unfounded and speculative. Our officers responded to a call for service and addressed the situation that was presented to them. The Utah County Attorney’s Office continues to investigate the incident."
There have been differing witness accounts about Hunt's demeanor prior to the shooting. While all agree he stood out with his 3-foot sword strapped to his back, some have described him as "distressed" while others said he was "totally calm."
Hunt had reportedly been walking in the area of Crossroads Boulevard and Redwood Road around a group of businesses, including a Panda Express restaurant on Redwood Road, a gas station, an auto parts store and a credit union.
A witness later sent Susan Hunt a photo of police confronting her son outside the bank just prior to shots being fired. In the picture, two officers are standing on either side of Darrien. The sword is not visible in the picture. The family believes, based on the limited information they've been given, that at some point during that confrontation, a shot was fired by police. Susan Hunt doesn't know if that shot hit her son or not. But she believes he then ran toward the Panda Express, where she believes multiple shots were fired and he was struck and killed.
Now, the family wants answers from police about what transpired.
"I've been begging the police, why from the time I saw the pictures of you just standing by him with his hands to his side, does he end up seconds later with a bullet in him? And then if he's running (according to eyewitnesses), why you had to put in more bullets, and I don't even know how many? That's what I want to know. Would they have done that to any white boy?" Susan Hunt said.
Hunt described her son as a boy in a man's body who loved everybody and was deeply concerned about travesties in other parts of the world, particularly Africa.
"He wanted to make a difference," she said. "His potential was amazing."
But his mother also said she and her family fled from an abusive relationship three years ago and her son was still trying to process many emotions inside his head.
"My son is a tender heart who would not hurt anybody. Just wanted to be loved. And he was so confused. He was abused his whole life," she said. "My son is a beautiful, bright-eyed, intelligent boy."
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