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Family of Bernardo Palacios suing SLCPD

A still frame from an SLCPD officer's body-worn camera footage shot during the May 23, 2020, critical incident involving Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal.
Posted at 8:33 PM, Sep 25, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — The family of a man shot and killed by Salt Lake City Police officers in May is filing a lawsuit against the department.

Bernardo Palacios (also identified as Palacios-Carbajal), 22, was killed May 23 after police say he ran from officers responding to an armed robbery report.

Officers' body-worn camera footage was released June 5. In July, the officers' use of deadly force was ruled as justified by both Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill and the SLC Civilian Review Board.

Palacios' family announced Friday through law firm Eisenberg, Cutt, Kendell & Olson that they will "move forward with a lawsuit against the Salt Lake City Police Department and the officers who took Bernardo’s life."

The family said they planned to sue shortly after Gill's ruling.

"Despite the family’s attempts to negotiate, it is apparent that the SLCPD and the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office is not interested in real reform. It is further apparent that the recent proposed changes and statements made by public officials have simply been hollow words designed to placate a discouraged and frustrated public. With no other options at our disposal, we are exercising our constitutional rights to seek justice for Bernardo and to bring about reforms that prevent future abuses," a statement from the family's lawyers read in part. "We are concerned that the district attorney’s decision to not prosecute the officers and SLCPD’s failure to discipline these officers have merely galvanized an already ingrained belief that certain citizens are not deserving of due process, fairness and common decency... Bernardo’s death cannot be forgotten and we pray that justice will be accomplished."

Part of the full legal complaint, also released by the law firm representing the family, alleges that the officers shot Palacios despite being told to "taze him" by a sergeant with SLCPD. It also claims the same sergeant told the officers to hold their fire after their initial flurry of gunshots, but they continued to shoot while Palacios was on the ground and "no longer presented a threat of escape."

In the complaint, the family seeks economic, non-economic, consequential, compensatory and punitive damages in amounts to be determined at trial, as well as legal costs.

SLCPD told FOX 13 it could not comment on the lawsuit until possibly Monday as no public information officer was on duty Friday evening.

Click here to read the full complaint (Warning: Details of the shooting may be disturbing to some readers).