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Salt Lake City’s Police Civilian Review Board exonerates officers in Bernardo Palacios shooting

Posted at 7:46 PM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 21:46:15-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City’s Police Civilian Review Board, or CRB, released a 26 page document this week outlining the board’s ruling in the May 23rd shooting death of Bernardo Palacios.

The panel ruled to exonerate Salt Lake City officers Kevin Fortuna and Neil Iversen.

“As to the allegation that Officer Iversen and/or Officer Fortuna used Excessive Force, to wit the firing of their Department sidearms, the Panel makes a finding of “Exonerated”,’ the panel wrote.

Once Salt Lake District Attorney Sim Gill announced his ruling not to charge the two officers, CRB Administrator, Rick Rasmussen, said they got to work.

“We went into overdrive, basically working nonstop because there was such a great community interest and outcry on this matter, we didn’t feel like we could take much of a breath,” he said.

The panel is religiously tied to the facts and the facts as they are known today results in the findings, Rasmussen said.

“They take those facts and they apply them to the Salt Lake City Police Department’s deadly force policy. That policy exceeds the state policy, the state policy has to be in compliance with the federal policy. In other words, you can make your deadly force policies more restrictive, but you cant make them less restrictive,” he said.

Related: Palacios family to file lawsuit following District Attorney’s ruling in son’s death

The report also outlined a recommendation by CRB, “CRB strongly urges the SLCPD to review their firearms training policies and modify, update or emphasize the widely held training guideline of fire twice and assess.”

District Attorney Gill has also made similar recommendations, announcing last week he will propose changes to Utah’s officer involved shooting laws.

“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.”

Related: FOX 13 Exclusive: Bernardo Palacios’ armed robbery victims have separate views of deadly police shooting

The next steps for the two officers are now in the hands of Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown.

“The Chief now has the full investigation from the Unified Police Department-led OICI protocol team, the report and ruling from the District Attorney, the Internal Affairs investigation and findings, and the Civilian Review Board’s report and recommendations,” a spokesperson for the department said. “There is not a specific time limit on the decision he has to make, but he will take the time that is required to weigh all the factors given to him from the organizations. These decisions are not taken lightly and deserve the time and attention he affords them.”

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall released the following statement to FOX13 News:

“The recommendation today by the Civilian Review Board to exonerate the officers involved in the shooting of Bernardo Palacios Carbajal, gives advice to Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown who is authorized, by state statute, to use such feedback in determining any internal disciplinary measures to be taken.

The determination process of the CRB is based on what the current laws consider appropriate and justified. I recognize that this outcome, as well as the determination by District Attorney Sim Gill last week, is upsetting to many who want to see change in not only the state’s use of force standards, but also with the way our city approaches policing.

The outcomes of this case do not close the door on the movement of building equity and uprooting systems of oppression that exist throughout local, state, and national government. Our laws, at every level, should evolve and are designed to do so. This is the work ahead of us. Change will come to our city and I commit, again, to making Salt Lake City more equitable, more safe, for all.”

Click here to read the full report from CRB.

For more information on Salt Lake City’s Police Civilian Review Board, click here.