SALT LAKE CITY — The family of a man shot and killed by a police officer last year are suing the Unified Police Department for $2.5 million, saying the fatal shooting of Bryan Peña Valencia should never have happened.
Salt Lake County District attorney Sim Gill recently ruled the shooting was not justified.
“My cousin was a somebody, he was someone to us and we lost a great person in our lives and we miss him deeply,” said Ana Herrera.
Valencia was sitting in his car on March 21, 2020 when officers showed up to investigate a non-related matter.
After driving off, Valencia was involved in an accident a short distance away and began to walk from the scene.
UPD Officer Omar Flores followed Valencia into the backyard of a home and ordered him to put his hands up. After Valencia complied, Flores unsuccessfully attempted to use a Taser before shooting him.
Flores and another office said it appeared Valencia was reaching for something before he was shot.
Attorneys say they believe the facts will show that Flores shot Valencia another five times while he was on the ground, and caused his death.
Family members said Valencia left behind an 11 year old son.
“It’s hard to see him cry every night for his dad. He originally had a birthday without his dad and it was super hard on him," said Herrera.
Valencia‘s relatives say they do not believe all police officers are bad, but some are not trained properly and that’s what happened in this case. They say this incident should never have risen to the level of the officer using lethal force.