The fatal shooting of Darrien Hunt, a 22-year-old black man, who was carrying a sword as part of a Japanese anime costume, was justified according to prosecutors in Utah on Monday. Hunt was shot dead by two Saratoga Springs officers on Sept. 10.
Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman ruled that the two white officers feared for their lives and believed Hunt could harm other people at a shopping center. Hunt was shot seven times after officers considered him to be a threat as he swung his 3-foot long metal sword, The Associated Press, or AP reported. According to Bob Sykes, an attorney for Hunt’s family who have claimed that race played a role in the shooting, a civil rights and wrongful death lawsuit will be filed against the two officers.
"This happened so quickly, violently and without provocation the officers had to use what was most immediately available to them, which was their firearms," Buhman said, according to AP. Buhman added that the two officers will not be charged in Hunt's death.
The shooting took place after a 911 call was made by an unidentified person to report a man carrying a sword in Saratoga Springs, a city about 36 miles south of Salt Lake City. The two officers, Matthew Schauerhamer and Nicholas Judson, reportedly spotted Hunt and shot him after he refused to drop his sword and tried to escape.
"It would have been a matter of seconds before he could have reached someone else," Buhman said, according to AP.
Sykes told reporters Monday that a jury will disagree with the finding. "I think it's a whitewash. I think it's an exaggeration. I think they ignored good hard evidence to the contrary," he reportedly said.
"So many young men and young women are being shot down and killed by police officers improperly using deadly force,” he said, and expressed hope that the lawsuit filed by Hunt’s family could change this trend.
Sykes also reportedly said that the sword used by Hunt was decorative and could not have harmed anyone -- a claim that was countered by Buhman.
"The tip is sharp and the blade, maybe it's not sharpened to Ginsu or chef standards, but it's sharp enough to cut," Buhman reportedly said. "It is not dulled."
Saratoga Springs Police Chief Andrew Burton reportedly said Monday that he was happy with the findings and hoped “that the community can now move forward in the healing process.”