SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, July 9, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake City Police Department released additional body-cam footage from an officer that was on the scene of the May 23 fatal shooting of Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill ruled earlier Thursday the shooting by police was justified, and the involved officers will not face charges.
The 3:23 video shows body-cam footage from Officer Kilgore, who did not fire his weapon, a tweet from SLCPD at 8:30 p.m. said. At the 1:07 mark, the officer appears to begin to run, and the footage is blurred and jumpy. The officer stops running just after the 2:00 mark. The officer’s weapon can then be seen, but as noted by SLCPD, he did not fire the weapon. He then walks toward other officers, who are holding their weapons. Palacios-Carbajal can be seen on the ground at the end of the video.
At the press conference earlier Thursday, 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 the wallet of the man who was robbed and the 45 $1 bills he said were taken, 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 office. Large groups of protesters have chanted messages including “Justice for Bernardo.”
Between 100 and 200 protesters gathered at the DA’s office at 35 E. 500 South at 6 p.m. Thursday, sticking dozens of signs on the doors, bearing messages including “Justice for Bernardo” and “Sim Gill, their blood is on your hands.”
The protesters left red hand prints and threw red paint, symbolizing blood, onto the sign in front of the office and the street, also writing “F— your police department” in paint on the road. One protester wrote in large chalk letters on the street in front of the office: “Respect existence or expect resistance.” Another climbed a ladder to post “Justice for Bernardo” signs above the windows of the building.
Just before 8 p.m., reports from the scene indicate protesters returned to the DA’s office and broke three windows.
Officers in riot gear with shields broke the protesters into two groups in an attempt to disperse them, while a Utah DPS helicopter hovered overhead.
The protesters had mostly dispersed by 9:30 p.m.