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Family of Darrien Hunt seeks $2 million in wrongful death lawsuit against Saratoga Springs police

Posted at 9:29 PM, Jan 01, 2015

UPDATE: Thursday Saratoga Springs police declined to comment on the lawsuit; Friday a law firm representing both officers and the City of Saratoga Springs issued a press release responding to the complaint and contradicting some of the allegations made in the complaint. Click here for details.

Previous story continues below.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah -- The family of Darrien Hunt, who was shot and killed by Saratoga Springs Police last September, is taking their fight for justice to the federal courts.

They plan on filing a civil rights lawsuit alleging wrongful death Friday morning, and they're asking for millions of dollars in damages.

Hunt's family attorney, Bob Sykes, said the key factor in the case will be proving that Darrien was already down on the ground and not a threat when police fired the fatal shot.

"He didn't want to give up the sword and he took off and they fired on him," Sykes said. "They chased him, he was wearing his pants real low on his hips. When he got to the north part of the Panda Express, they fell down and tripped him and either as he was going down or on the ground, he was shot by the officer and killed."

Sykes detailed the circumstances surrounding the shooting death in a new 44-page lawsuit. He believes police provoked the 22-year-old man: "They claim that he swung the sword."

An evidence photo courtesy of the Utah County Attorney's Office showing the sword involved in the fatal shooting of Darrien Hunt

An evidence photo courtesy of the Utah County Attorney's Office showing the sword involved in the fatal shooting of Darrien Hunt

It was September 10, 2014 when Saratoga Springs police were responding to a call about a man with a sword. Surveillance video released months later shows Hunt sprinting while being chased by two officers, who then shot him multiple times. Utah County prosecutors ruled the shooting justified.

The new wrongful death lawsuit says in part, "Darrien was violating no laws by walking openly with a sword. The office was wearing a body camera at the time of the incident. Allegedly he did not turn it on. Darrien was killed by one or more of the final three shots."

Six rounds were fired, and all of the bullets hit him.

Sykes said: "How far is a kid that's been hit in the arm, and the hip and shoulder going to go? It was unreasonable of him to finish Darrien off as he was falling. There was no threat to anybody, and it was an unjustified shooting. It was illegal and these officers should be held to account."

He also said the key witness in the case never told police Darrien lunged at officers with a sword. Key evidence Sykes claims was ignored by prosecutors.

Sykes said: "You read his lengthy oral interview, and what he says is, 'I assumed Darrien swung his sword at the officer because the officer fired his gun.' He didn't actually see it. So that's the kind of stuff when you get all the evidence, it becomes clear. He didn't see the swing at the officer. He assumed it."

Sykes said the family is asking for $2 million in damages. The lawsuit will be filed Friday morning; the federal court has 60 to 90 days to respond and decide whether or not to take up the case. Meantime, the NAACP has also called on the Department of Justice to investigate.

The Saratoga Springs Police Department had no comment regarding the lawsuit when contacted Thursday.

Click here for FOX 13 News' ongoing coverage of the case.