State autopsy: Police shot Darrien Hunt 6 times from behind; no drugs in system
Investigator: Incident 'turned real quick'; autopsy doesn't tell whole story
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Susan Hunt said Tuesday she can't understand why some members of the public continue to try to justify the actions of two Saratoga Springs police officers who shot and killed her son.
"He didn't do anything. And people won't even come forward and say he didn't do anything, they want to justify the cops. How can you justify the cops? He's 147 pounds. You know how skinny that is? How can he, with a sword, come to a gun fight?" she said in tears Tuesday.
"They shot him in his arm and it came out his wrist. How do you get a bullet to go that way if he lunged forward? All the other (bullets) are freakin' stuck right in his back!"
The mother's emotional reaction came after reading the official autopsy report conducted by the Utah State Medical Examiner's Office on her 22-year-old son, Darrien Hunt, who was shot to death on Sept. 10.
The report concluded that five of the shots hit Hunt from behind and one hit the side of his left hip toward the back of his body.
But just as important to Susan Hunt, toxicology tests from the autopsy "did not reveal any positive findings of toxicological significance," meaning Hunt did not have illegal drugs in his system at the time.
"What really upsets me people are trying to justify killing my son. 'He had to have been drunk. He had to have been on drugs.' So that means a cop can kill him? But he wasn't!" Hunt screamed, before busting into tears.
Hunt, with her family sitting nearby, addressed the media Tuesday in the office of her attorney, Robert Sykes. She became so emotional, however, that at one point she had to leave the room to collect herself.
In her opinion, the state's autopsy report contains "inconsistency after inconsistency."
Although the medical examiner's report, released by Sykes on Tuesday, agreed with an independent autopsy conducted earlier at the family's request that showed Hunt was shot six times from behind, it was a narrative of the events of that day — as told to the medical examiner by two representatives of the Utah County Attorney's Office — that had Hunt the most upset and her attorneys concerned.
"The accounts on Sept. 10 that were given to the M.E., just do not seem to match up with the facts," said Karra Porter, who is representing Curtis Hunt, Darrien Hunt's father, and is working with Sykes. "Unfortunately, every time we get a new report, the questions just keep rising."
Furthermore, Porter said the trajectory of the officers' bullets raises red flags for her. At least two of the shots hit Hunt in a downward direction, according to the autopsy.
"The direction of fire, as reported in the M.E.'s report, raises significant concerns about Darrien's position at the time he was shot on the multiple occasions," she said, explaining that it raises questions about whether Hunt was shot while he was on the ground.
On Sept. 10, Saratoga Springs police were called to the area of Crossroads Boulevard and Redwood Road after Hunt, a 22-year-old black man, was seen by numerous eyewitnesses walking with what appeared to be a samurai sword. Family members have since said it was a 3-foot souvenir katana sword. The Utah County Attorney's Office has said it looked like a real sword.
Cpl. Matt Schauerhamer and officer Nicholas Judson confronted Hunt in the parking lot of a credit union.
On Tuesday, investigators for the first time hinted at the conversation that took place between the officers and Hunt. Deputy Utah County attorney Tim Taylor said it was a very "innocuous, short conversation" that unexpectedly went south.
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