Authorities have changed their account of the shooting of Darrien Hunt, a 22-year-old black man, who was shot and killed last Thursday while carrying a sword. Tim Taylor, the chief deputy attorney for Utah County, is now saying that it is unclear whether or not Hunt lunged at police when he was shot.
Initially, he said in a statement Saturday: “When the officers made contact with Mr. Hunt, he brandished the sword and lunged toward the officers with the sword, at which time Mr. Hunt was shot.” But he told the Guardian Monday Hunt allegedly lunged at officers outside a bank, several dozen yards from where he was ultimately killed.
This is the latest fatal police shooting to raise questions about police and racial profiling. Mike Brown, 18, was killed by officer Darren Wilson, 28, last month in Ferguson, Missouri, after he put his hands up during an alleged altercation on a street, witnesses said. Police said they had cause to shoot Brown.
Hunt was allegedly first shot at by police while outside the bank, but it remains unclear if he was struck by a bullet at that point. Hunt then headed north and was shot several times outside a Panda Express before collapsing. “Whether or not the individual lunged again at point two, the other location, I don’t know about that,” Taylor said.
Randall Edwards, an attorney for Hunt’s family, said in an email late on Monday: “This appears to be a major change in the official story.” Hunt’s mother, Susan, said she is now afraid for her surviving son and two daughters. She has accused police of killing her son because of his race. She is white and her husband is black.
“They killed my son because he’s black. No white boy with a little sword would they shoot while he’s running away,” Hunt told the Deseret News.
The family's attorney said Hunt was shot six times from behind, and the family had a private autopsy taken that shows he was hit once in a shoulder, once in the back, once in an elbow, twice in a leg and once in a hand.
“The shot that killed Darrien, which was straight in the back, did not have an exit wound,” Edwards told the Guardian. “It raises the question as to how you can lunge at someone and be shot in the back at the same time.”