Police body camera video shows that a Salt Lake City police officer was justified in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man in August, prosecutors in Utah say.
Dillon Taylor died in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven on Aug. 11 after Officer Bron Cruz responded to reports of an armed man in the area. Police said Cruz approached Taylor and two of his friends because they matched the description he was given.
Although no weapon was found on Taylor, Cruz was cleared of wrongdoing in the case Tuesday. Prosecutor Slim Gill said that the shooting was justified because Cruz thought Taylor had a weapon and that he would use it against him.
Video of the incident (above) shows Taylor walking away with his hands in his waistband under his shirt.
“Get your hands up, now!” Cruz is heard yelling in the video.
“No, fool.” Taylor replies, continuing to walk away.
When Taylor turns around and removes his hands from this waistband, Cruz shoots him twice, striking him in the chest and abdomen.
A deposition obtained by KSL Tuesday noted that Cruz became emotional when he recounted the incident, and said that although he “wasn’t about to shoot [Taylor] in the back,” he was “100 percent convinced when I saw him turn around it was gonna be a gunfight.”
“Nothing that Mr. Taylor did assisted in de-escalating the situation,” Gill told the Salt Lake Tribune. “If anything, it escalated things.”
“Officer Cruz’s belief that Dillon Taylor was armed with a gun and intended to use it against the officers was reinforced by Dillon’s actions and the acts of others,” Gill wrote in a letter to Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank obtained by the newspaper. “By the time Dillon drew his hands from his waistband, Officer Cruz’s belief that Dillon was presenting a weapon [and ... would use the weapon against officers] was reasonable.”
Officials said Taylor’s blood alcohol level was .18 percent when he was shot, according to Fox Salt Lake City. Days before his death, Taylor posted Facebook statuses that indicated he was emotionally distressed, the station reported.
Kelly Fowler, the attorney for Taylor’s family, told the Salt Lake Tribune that the prosecutor’s decision indulges police hostility and paranoia in dealing with the public.