Salt Lake City prosecutors declined to file charges against a law enforcement officer who gunned down an unarmed man posing no threat, citing the officer's belief his life was in danger.
But body-cam footage posted recently by activists shows the moment 20-year-old Dillon Taylor was gunned down by Salt Lake City police Officer Bron Cruz, who fired two rounds at him while they were standing outside a 7-Eleven — and it certainly appears to cast doubt on the official explanation.
Cruz says he was in the first police vehicle to respond to a report of a possibly armed man in the area on Aug. 11, 2014. Local television station KSL reports that as Taylor was walking out of the 7-Eleven with his brother and cousin, both of whom immediately put their hands over their heads upon seeing the officers, Taylor continued to stroll away. Though Taylor was wearing headphones, he did apparently hear the officer's demand for him to put his hands above his head, responding, "No, fool."
Taylor reached for his waistband, and Cruz shot him twice:
While the video isn't new, it's attracting attention now because of the efforts of activists who don't want Taylor's memory to be forgotten.
"I was scared to death," Cruz had testified, according to KSL. "The last thought I had go through my mind when I pulled the trigger, and I'll never forget this ... was that I was too late. I was too late. And because of that, I was gonna get killed. Worse, my (partner) was gonna get killed."
Based on the information provided by Cruz, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill cleared Cruz of any wrongoing.
"We don't want this to ever happen to anyone else again," Taylor's aunt, Gina Thayne, told KSL. "Dillon is still important. He's not a throwaway kid. This is going to happen a lot more times before people get it."
Taylor's death is just one of many to occur at the hands of Utah police in recent years. In November 2014, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that officer-involved homicide in Utah had outpaced murders by gang members and drug dealers or as a result of child abuse, with only domestic violence claiming more lives than police officers since 2010. According to the Tribune, 45 out of "nearly 300 homicides" over the studied period involved an officer who killed a suspect.
"There is an absolute time when you need to go hands on, need to Taser them, need to resort to deadly force," former police lieutenant and training expert Chris Gebhardt told the Tribune. "But there are really less times than what's going on. There's an opportunity to de-escalate more of these situations. Officers instead are escalating these situations themselves."
This certainly appears to be one of those situations, When gunning down an unarmed man within seconds is okay under use of force standards, perhaps it's time to take a long look at those standards.
Watch the video below: