Rally in Salt Lake City focuses on officer-involved shootings, calls for more accountability

Posted at 9:16 PM, Sep 05, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-05 23:18:36-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A rally was held outside Salt Lake City Hall on Saturday to fight back against police brutality.

“We learn to live our life, but it’s never easier and trying to get changes so future families don’t have to go through this is my ultimate goal,” said Melinda Tucker Castellanos.

Castellanos lost a brother. Others outside city hall Saturday lost a child, a spouse or a parent. All of them were killed in police-involved shootings in Utah.

“Having the kids constantly ask, ‘Where’s daddy, where is daddy?’ What do I tell them? 'Where’s daddy?' My 3-year-old, she doesn’t understand, my 2-year-old, she just turned 2, and she is constantly crying for her daddy,” said Joana Evans, whose husband Cody was killed at the hands of police.

These family members say it’s too late for their loved ones, but it’s not too late to save others.

“It makes it worse every day to wake up and look at the news and see what’s going on and wonder when the community is going to open their eyes and say, 'We need to make some significant change,” said Gina Thayne, whose nephew, Dillon Taylor, was killed in a police involved shooting.

One of the focal points of the rally is how the participants believe police are becoming too militarized, specifically when it comes to SWAT team situations.

“Attitudes where: 'You do as I say or I’ll kill you' is a little far fetched, the death penalty is not a good solution,” said William Lawrence.

Lawrence knows both sides of the issue. He developed the first SWAT team in Davis County when he was sheriff back in 1975.

“That same SWAT team killed my son in-law on September 22, 2008,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence is now telling his story in a documentary called “Peace officer.”

The documentary, which won multiple awards at last year’s South by Southwest Film Festival, depicts the cases of five Utahns killed in SWAT standoffs. Lawrence said he hopes it will make a difference, so these rallies outside city hall shrink in numbers, rather than grow.

“We want to look to better training, better transparency, more equality under the law, immunity, those are the issues that are really important,” Lawrence said.

"Peace Officer" is scheduled to premiere on September 25 at the Tower Theater in Salt Lake City.