The NAACP has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to review whether police violated the civil rights of a young Utah man who was wielding a samurai sword when he was fatally shot by officers.
The information that authorities have released does not seem to justify the shooting of 22-year-old Darrien Hunt, who was carrying the sword as part of a Japanese anime costume, NAACP Salt Lake Branch president Jeanetta Williams said at a news conference on Monday.
The organization has asked for a review of the entire incident, whether officers were meeting law enforcement standards and whether the Justice Department can recommend changes to the Saratoga Springs police department.
Melodie Rydalch, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Utah, acknowledged the request Monday and said the office appreciates the organization’s concern but will not comment about investigations.
The branch sent a request to the Department of Justice last week after local prosecutors had finished their review of the shooting, Williams said.
The Utah County attorney’s office ruled last week that the two officers involved were justified in shooting Hunt because they feared for their lives and the lives of others. Messages left with Tim Taylor, chief deputy at the county attorney’s office, were not immediately returned Monday.
Owen Jackson, a spokesman for the city of Saratoga Springs, said the city welcomes any outside, official investigation.
Hunt’s family disagrees that the shooting is justified and have said he was treated differently because of his race. Hunt was black; the officers who shot him were white.