UPDATE: Saratoga Springs Police Chief Andrew Barton issued an apology for a Facebook post that criticized the media for its coverage on an officer-involved shooting last week.
The post was written on the Saratoga Springs police Facebook page.
“We apologize for this comment and have removed the comment. We ask the media and the public for patience and understanding of our position and lack of ability to answer all the questions posed at this time,” according to the statement.
The 624-word statement also details how the incident was responded to and goes into depth about the current investigation process.
“The City of Saratoga Springs and the Saratoga Springs Police Department understand the desire on the part of the media, the family, and the public for more information about what occurred. However the City and the Police Department are unable to provide that information concerning the investigation because we are not conducting the investigation and cannot appropriately answer the questions,” according to the statement.
The chief also states that the investigation is being handled by the Utah County Officer Involved Shooting Protocol Team and the Utah County Attorney’s Office.
Read the full statement below:
Last week, officers of the Saratoga Springs Police Department were dispatched to a situation where deadly force was used. When an officer involved shooting takes place, a certain protocol is immediately invoked requiring notification of the Utah County Officer Involved Shooting Protocol Team and the Utah County Attorney’s Office. That notification was immediately made and the Protocol Team assumed responsibility for the investigation.
Immediately upon learning that our police department was involved in an officer involved shooting incident, we made the appropriate notifications to the Utah County Officer Involved Shooting Protocol Team. The Protocol Team then immediately responded to the scene and assumed conduct of the investigation. That team consists of investigators from the Utah County Attorney’s Office and other law enforcement agencies from within Utah County. The Saratoga Springs Police Department is not part of that investigative team. Additionally, immediately upon learning that there was a shooting in Saratoga Springs, other law enforcement agencies responded to the scene, further bringing a level of outside involvement of independent agencies. The Saratoga Springs Police Department and those agencies on the scene cooperated with and turned the scene over to the investigators of the Utah County Officer Involved Shooting Protocol Team. From that moment, the Protocol Team has had responsibility for the investigation.
The investigation of such an incident is extremely complicated and very in-depth. The investigation team must gather evidence, identify witnesses and collect witness statements, and collect any other type of evidence. Then dozens of interviews must be conducted. The evidence must be forensically analyzed and other laboratory tests must be completed. An official autopsy by the Utah State Medical Examiner is conducted. The Medical Examiner’s report, including lab results, such as toxicology tests, are completed and given to the County Attorney. Sometimes a reconstruction of the situation may be completed. All of the witness statements, evidence and other material must then be carefully and methodically examined and reviewed. This process is time consuming. Once the Protocol Team has completed its investigation, the results of the investigation are then given to the County Attorney for a comprehensive analysis and review. The County Attorney then makes a determination whether the officers were justified is using deadly force based on Utah law. It is difficult to determine how long such a comprehensive process would take.
The City of Saratoga Springs and the Saratoga Springs Police Department understand the desire on the part of the media, the family, and the public for more information about what occurred. However the City and the Police Department are unable to provide that information concerning the investigation because we are not conducting the investigation and cannot appropriately answer the questions. These questions must be answered by the Utah County Officer Involved Shooting Protocol Team. We fully support an independent and unbiased investigation. Our inability to respond to this situation has caused much frustration, not only for the media and the public, but to the City and the Police Department, which culminated in remarks by our Police Department regarding the media coverage on the police department social media page. We apologize for this comment and have removed the comment. We ask the media and the public for patience and understanding of our position and lack of ability to answer all the questions posed at this time. Any further questions concerning the case should be directed to the investigative team of the Utah County Officer Involved Shooting Protocol Team and the Utah County Attorney’s Office.
The City of Saratoga Springs would like the investigation to be concluded quickly. However, the integrity of an investigation is paramount to an accurate outcome, and patience and commitment are required. The City supports the Protocol Team to ensure that a thorough, independent and unbiased investigation is conducted.
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SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah – In a Facebook post that has since been deleted, the Saratoga Springs Police Department appeared to criticize the media for the way it covered the officer-involved shooting last week.
The post read:
Everyone should remember that the news outlets have ratings they need to gain. They don’t report facts. They use innuendo, opinion and rumor and then report it as fact. The same thing happens here on FB and other social media. The real facts are being determined by an independent investigation, and not in a rushed or haphazard manner. When those facts are gathered and analyzed, they will be reviewed by independent legal authorities. There is no cover up and there is no corruption. While this process is played out, we ask all persons to have patience with the process and allow the process that has been legally established to go forth. No one has been charged with any crime. The law has established that there must be probable cause for charges to be filed. Then even when and if charges were filed, in this country, all persons are innocent until proven guilty. This protection is extended to all persons, including cops.
According to Saratoga Springs Police, he appeared suspicious, walking around the parking lot carrying a samurai sword.
The Utah County Attorney’s Office said in a statement Saturday, “Preliminary evidence suggests that Mr. Hunt brandished the sword and lunged toward the officers with the sword, at which time Mr. Hunt was shot.”
According to a witness, Hunt was running from police when he was shot.
The Hunt family paid for their own independent autopsy.
“We found out there were six gunshot wounds in him, all in the back, all from the back side,” Cindy Moss said, Hunt’s aunt.
“The shot that did kill him hit him right in the back, so there is some question of what he was doing, where he was going, obviously he was running away at the time he was shot and killed,” Hunt family attorney Randall Edwards said.