SLCPD, D.A.’s office release pointed statements on violent protests, vandalism

Protesters react to the D.A.'s decision on Thursday, July 9, that police who shot Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal will not be prosecuted. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, July 10, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The Salt Lake City Police Department and Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill have each released statements on the Thursday night protest and vandalism that took place hours after Gill released his decision that officers who shot and killed fleeing suspect Bernardo Palacio-Carbajal on May 23 were justified, and will not be prosecuted.

Protesters had been to the area around the D.A.’s office each night for several weeks leading up to Gill’s announcement. On Thursday, emotions ran high as demonstrators demanded payback, blocking off streets, smashing windows, and vandalizing the District Attorney’s Office.

Two SLCPD officers were reported injured, as were at least two demonstrators who clashed with police near State Street and 500 South.

Salt Lake City Police issued a statement Friday night saying the violence and destruction would no longer be tolerated.

Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

The SLCPD account follows:

The daily planned protest began at the D.A.’s office at 6 p.m. The group size was approximately 60 and quickly grew to between 200 and 300. Some of the group began to paint the roadway and the District Attorney’s Office (35 E. 500 South), while others expressed their opinions thru amplified sound.

The group marched around the block returning to the D.A.’s Office. On their return, some of the group members began to break windows on the building. Law enforcement declared the protest an unlawful assembly and made multiple announcement for demonstrators to disperse.”

The group ultimately broke five windows and painted the roadway and building with red paint causing damage estimated to be between $100,000 and $200,000.

SLCPD was joined by SLC Fire Department who had medical on hand to assist any injuries. One SLCPD officer sustained a serious, non-life-threatening injury and was transported to an area hospital. Less serious injuries were sustained by other officers. SLC911 had no calls to treat others during this time.

Protesters blocked traffic with vehicles and became violent throwing rocks and bottles, kicking, and punching. Officers worked to strategically remove and arrest those who were the most egregious offenders.

Four arrests were made:

  • Ryan Moore, 39, misdemeanor B failure to disperse.
  • Mercedes McKinley, 32, misdemeanor A assault on a police officer and misdemeanor B failure to disperse.
  • Emmanuel Hill, 21, felony 3 riot and felony 1 criminal mischief.
  • Sofia Alcala, 18, felony 1 criminal mischief (from protest on June 27th; other charges pending).
From left, Ryan Christopher Moore, Mercedes McKinley, Emanuel Alan Hill and Sophia Linda Alcala. Photos: Salt Lake County

Officers used non-lethal rounds in response to the violent protesters. One bean bag round was used as well as five FN303 rounds. We did not deploy, nor use, rubber bullets.

Given the extent of the damage, Salt Lake City will no longer tolerate vandalism, violence, or using cars to block roads. SLCPD will assist in traffic control to support peaceful protesters and remind the community that it is incumbent upon each person to respect the first amendment rights to peaceably assemble.

Gill’s statement

Earlier on Friday, Gill released his own statement, which appears below:

Yesterday, this office published its findings in the Salt Lake City Police Department’s use of deadly force on May 23, 2020. Hours later, a few people damaged the District Attorney’s Office Building. More than just paint was spilled and windows broken. It was an unlawful and irresponsible disregard for civic dialogue and community collaboration. The building will be repaired, our work will continue. The vandalism of a few won’t discourage or distract us from continuing our work in the community as we seek improvement, reform, understanding, and respect throughout our community.

The District Attorney’s Office, and the criminal justice system, is often the intersection between people and their government. Sometimes it’s a flashpoint. Last night, we were grateful for the organized, orderly work of the Salt Lake City Police Department led by Chief Brown and Mayor Mendenhall. We also gratefully acknowledge the assistance pledged by Governor Gary Herbert’s Executive Order declaring a state of emergency due to civil unrest. And we’re working closely with law enforcement professionals as they investigate violations of the law. All persons accused of wrongdoing are presumed innocent unless and until convicted in a court of law. And our office will continue to work closely with investigators to ensure those who ought to be held accountable will be held accountable.

As we always have, we encourage robust civic dialogue. We celebrate free speech and honor the right to dissent without fear of reprisal or retribution. Mutually respectful disagreement enriches every discussion. Last night wasn’t that. We urge the community not to let the misguided and unfortunate actions of a few to set back the progress we’ve seen in the last several weeks. Never before have we been blessed to hear the kinds of dialogue we now hear. We truly believe those who acted out violently last night do not speak the hearts and minds of so many in the community who have worked too hard for too long to have their causes overshadowed by the regressive measures of so few.

To the community we serve, we assure you we will continue to strive to do the right thing, to fulfill our mission to daily earn the respect of our citizens and the trust of our communities with the integrity of our actions and the ethics of our convictions, to maintain the public trust, honor, integrity and pride in our professional responsibilities and judgments, and to serve our citizens.

Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

Friday night, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert updated an executive order declaring a state of emergency due to the civil unrest. The new mandate restricts public access to both the Salt Lake County District Attorneys Office and the Utah State Capitol.  

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