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Darrien Hunt: Killed By Utah Cops For Anime Cosplay While Black

Add anime cosplaying (costume play) to the list of activities that are unsafe for black people in America.

A couple accounts were tweeting to @Shadowproof about the case of Darrien Hunt, questioning why there hasn’t been more coverage of his death in the media. A journalist named Natalie Collins sent several links about the case, along with some of her thoughts on the situation. In September 2014, police in Saratoga Springs, Utah, shot Hunt several times in the back and side after a 911 caller reported a black male with a samurai sword.

Hunt was dressed as an anime character and holding a toy or blunt replica sword commonly used by cosplayers, but Utah is an open carry state, so Hunt could legally carry a real sword there.

Here’s a synopsis of the case from The Guardian, based on a federal civil rights lawsuit brought by Hunt’s family in January:

The family of Darrien Hunt, a young Utah man who was killed by police while wielding a [toy] samurai sword, filed a lawsuit … against the officers and the city that employs them. The federal civil rights lawsuit contends that the 22-year-old wasn’t a threat and was fatally shot after he tripped while running from two Saratoga Springs officers.

… [Officer Nicholas] Judson encountered Hunt on 10 September, after someone called 911 to report a young man was walking around a commercial strip of stores with a sword. The caller didn’t report a crime. Judson started yelling at Hunt shortly after arriving at the scene, according to a copy of the lawsuit provided by attorney Robert Sykes. Schauerhamer wasn’t dispatched to the area but heard radio traffic about the situation and came to help, it says.

After talking with the officers and refusing to surrender the sword, Hunt ran away from police. The suit alleges he was afraid and the officers didn’t tell Hunt to stop running,

… The suit contends that Hunt tripped on his pants, sending the sword flying 10 to 15ft before the fatal shots were fired. They point to a lack of bullet holes in Hunt’s pants.

Family of Darrien Hunt, Utah man fatally shot by police, file civil rights lawsuit

 
Multiple eyewitness accounts dispute police testimony that Hunt acted threatening, and one witness photo shows Hunt along with both Officer Judson and Corporal Matthew Schauerhamer standing in a relaxed manner before his death. The local district attorney declined to prosecute either officer.

 
Utah authorities alter account of Darrien Hunt shooting by police

Here are Natalie Collins thoughts on the case:

I haven’t actually written the full story of Darrien’s death due to my closeness to the situation. His mother is my friend, Susan Hunt. … The investigators have lied; the officer who shot him lied (even under oath, to his own police department); video disappeared or was altered; body cams were not turned on; they claimed a vehicle was too new to have a dash cam (it did). In the end, only one witness corroborates their story, and her story contradicts the killer cop’s story as well as his partner’s story.

It goes on and on. And a boy who was shot SIX TIMES in the back died face up with no weapon anywhere near him. We have a shot from a video camera of the killer taking a shooter’s stance. There is only one reason to take a shooter’s stance: to shoot and kill and ensure the prey is dead.

A witness inside the Panda Express, who would have seen everything, has never been named. No charges were filed against the officers. And they walk the town with guns and badges. The city is 95 percent white and overwhelmingly Mormon.

An entry by Collins on the Bleeding_Heart_Blog offers more rebuttal to the suspicious and shifting police story about this killing.

REBUTTAL TO SARATOGA SPRINGS PRESS CONFERENCE

I’m happy to join my Anonymous comrades by drawing more attention to this sad and senseless killing.

Justice for Darrien Hunt & all the rest!

@OpDarrienHunt has a fundraiser for Darrien Hunt’s family & they are planning a Twitter storm on September 10, the anniversary of his death.

A photo from Israeli nuclear program whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu showing nuclear materials at Israel's  Negev Nuclear Research Center in 1985. (Wikimedia Commons /  Mordechai Vanunu)
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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and Occupy.com.