SALT LAKE CITY — District Attorney Sim Gill has announced it is time to start a “second conversation” about the laws surrounding officer-involved shootings in Utah.
He made the statements after announcing two Salt Lake City police officers were justified in using deadly force against Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal on May 23, 2020.
Gill said he is confident with his decision based on the way Utah laws are written, but he went on to say he believes the statutes could be improved.
“We can have a second conversation about criminal justice reform. We can have a second conversation about police brutality and those concerns that are there,” Gill said. “Hopefully we have that conversation to change the laws. In fact, I’ve said it a few times in the past, if we want different outcomes we have to change the law… that conversation is an important conversation.”
Gill did not go into detail about which laws he believe should be changed or whether it would have made a difference in how he analyzed the shooting of Palacios.
“In the very near future, my office will release a set of proposals to start the conversation on how those laws may be changed,” Gill said. “That conversation is long overdue, and it needs to happen.”
The investigation into the shooting death of Palacios was completed much quicker than other similar cases conducted by the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office.
“I was very sensitive to the concerns that we were having in the community. There are protests. There are people who are out there. This is of concern to our community, so I did not want to be insensitive to that,” Gill said. “But here is the reality… it takes time and process to do that. We’ve advocated for changes in the process.”
Gill did not indicate whether it will be possible to continue investigating similar cases at the same rate of speed moving forward.
“We tried to expedite it as fast as we could, but for example in 2018 we had 22 officer-involved critical incidents,” Gill said. “I don’t care if it is a complicated (case) or a simple one, we don’t jump to judgment. We try to make a complete thorough investigation to decipher the truth the best that we can and present it to our community because we believe that our community deserves that.”