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Online petition gives Utah family ‘hope’ that 2014 deadly officer-involved shooting case will be re-opened

Posted at 7:54 PM, Jun 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-16 22:02:03-04

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah — Cindy Moss looked up at her nephew painted beside three other men fatally shot by police.

The murals, near 300 West and 800 South in Salt Lake City, started with George Floyd and now include Bernardo Palacios, Dillon Taylor and Moss’ nephew Darrien Hunt.

22-year-old Hunt was shot and killed by Saratoga Springs police in September 2014. Former Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman said the shooting was justified at the time.

A new online petition which has gained hundreds of thousands of signatures is calling for the case to be re-opened.

“I am very thankful that they started the petition and that we have that opportunity that there will be justice for Darrien and that the officer that killed him will be held accountable,” Moss said.

The family doesn’t personally know the woman behind the petition, Moss said, but they have spoken with her. The woman said after she read Hunt’s story, she wanted to do something.

“She couldn’t let it go. She felt like she had to do something, and it feels like an answered prayer to us,” Moss said.

The petition is calling for the case to be re-opened, something Moss said she would be thankful for.

“I don’t know how that all goes down, but I’m praying that at least that a jury will hear all of the things in the case that have been — it feels like — hidden,” she said.

After the shooting, family, friends and community members protested on behalf of Hunt and called for change. Hunt’s family also fought back against Buhman’s ruling, suing the city and police department. A settlement was reached in 2017.

“I find that Saratoga Springs Cpl. Matthew Schauerhamer and Officer Nicholas Judson were justified in their use of deadly force against Mr. Hunt," said Buhman said in 2104. "Their belief that deadly force was necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury was reasonable."

The thought of what happened to Hunt still gives Moss nightmares as she imagines her nephew running away, she said.

“He [Schauerhamer] made the choice to fire a shot to murder him [Hunt] and he needs to be held accountable,” she said.

The pain from losing Hunt is still very real, Moss said.

“It’s like there is a hole in our family. And we miss him terribly, he is the sweetest most loving kid,” she said.

For more information on Hunt, click here.

The City of Saratoga Springs sent the following statement to FOX13 News:

The City of Saratoga Springs and its officers settled a lawsuit in 2017 related to Mr. Hunt's death in 2014. This settlement was reached after independent investigations were conducted by the United States Department of Justice and the Utah County Attorney's Office.

The intent of the settlement was to provide closure and allow all parties a chance to heal and move on from a very public, emotionally-charged case.

Both parties signed and agreed to a settlement and public statements at that time. Therefore, we will not be making additional statements regarding this matter or the findings of the investigations. The settlement is available online at: []

Requests for the investigative reports can be made to the Utah County Attorney’s Office and Department of Justice.

Prior to and since that time, the City has taken measures and performed ongoing trainings for officers, and continues to do so. Those include:

Body cameras
Implicit Bias
Crisis Intervention Techniques
Less-than lethal force
Suicide Awareness & Mental Health Issues
Professionalism and Ethics

The Utah County Attorney’s Office did not respond to FOX13 News’ request for comment.