A district attorney will not bring charges against Salt Lake City police officers who fatally shot a man as he ran away.
Sim Gill, the Salt Lake County district attorney, ruled Thursday that the two cops were justified in gunning down Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal on May 23, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Gill said that officers Neil Iverson and Kevin Fortuna fired a combined 34 bullets at Palacios-Carbajal when they killed him, according to the Tribune. Gill estimated that about 10-15 of those shots actually hit the 22-year-old man.
Palacios-Carbajal stumbled several times as he ran, dropping and picking up an object multiple times along the way, body camera footage (WARNING: Footage is disturbing) released by Salt Lake City police shows. Gill and the officers said the object was a gun.
Iverson and Fortuna said they feared for their lives because Palacios-Carbajal ignored their shouts to surrender and prioritized picking up the gun instead of running away, the Tribune reported. Gill agreed with the officers and said their use of force was “reasonable” and “justified.”
New body camera footage shown Thursday by Gill shows Palacios-Carbajal raising the gun only after Iverson and Fortuna shot him in the back, according to the Tribune.
Protesters in Salt Lake City have demanded justice for Palacios-Carbajal and the arrests of Iverson and Fortuna.
Though Palacios-Carbajal was actually killed two days before George Floyd in Minneapolis, people were already protesting police brutality nationwide when the body camera footage was released in early June.
At the time, Mayor Erin Mendenhall promised a swift and thorough investigation into the killing. Palacios-Carbajal’s family was “deeply disappointed” in the results of that investigation, KSL News in Salt Lake City reported.
“They didn’t have to kill him,” Elsa Karina Palacios, his sister, told Tribune in June. “They didn’t have to shoot him so many times. He was running. He was scared. He would still be here.”
In the past decade, no Utah cops have been convicted of murder or manslaughter, and shootings are ruled as justified 92% of the time, according to the Tribune. Police in Utah are legally allowed to kill someone if they feel that person may hurt or kill someone else.
Police said that they initially encountered Palacios-Carbajal when responding to a call from a man who said he was threatened at gunpoint around 2 a.m. on May 23. Palacios-Carbajal fled from the scene outside a downtown Salt Lake City motel, cops said.
Mendenhall said that an internal police investigation will also occur. Iverson and Fortuna are on administrative leave.
Palacios-Carbajal’s family plans to file a civil lawsuit, local CBS affiliate KUTV reported.
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