SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, July 9, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill has ruled that the May 23 fatal shooting of Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal by police was justified, and the involved officers will not face charges.
Gill quoted interviews in which the Salt Lake City Police officers involved said they feared for their lives after a prone Palacios-Carbajal appeared to raise a gun he had dropped three times as he fell on slick surfaces on the rainy night.
Gill noted that as the officer was gaining on him, Palacios-Carbajal slowed down three times to retrieve the fallen gun, showing possession of the deadly weapon was more important to him than escape.
Gill showed blurry video that appeared to show Palacios-Carbajal raising the hand holding the gun to the side of his waist, off the ground, which meant he elevated the gun.
Gill said Officer Iverson was chasing Palacios-Carbajal, and gaining ground when the officer heard a metallic clink as the suspect fell and dropped an object. Gill said the officers visually confirmed the object was a gun before shooting.
Gill said if the suspect had dropped the gun and had continued to run without the weapon, and officers Iverson and Fortuna had shot the suspect, it would not have been justified use of deadly force.
The District Attorney said he wanted to dispel a rumor that the suspect’s fingers had been cut off, and he showed a photo of Palacios-Carbajal’s bullet-riddled fingers, still attached to his hand.
Answering a question, Gill said the officers are trained to meet a show of force with greater force, so they would not holster their guns to deploy Tasers while a gun was pointed at them.
A gun was found at the scene, as was money (45 $1 bills) and the wallet reported stolen earlier by a man who called in a police report, Gill said.
The body of Palacios-Carbajal was found to have 15 bullet holes from 13 to 15 bullets, Gill said. The two officers fired 34 bullets, he confirmed.
To see video of the shooting and the June 5 news conference by the Salt Lake City Police Department, click here.
The death of Palacios-Carbajal has been protested by nightly outside the DA’s officer. Large groups of protesters have chanted messages including “Justice for Bernardo.”