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Watch: Body cam footage from fatal officer-involved shooting in SLC Avenues


SALT LAKE CITY -- A heated exchange between a Salt Lake City police officer and a man was captured on camera moments before the officer shot him.

Police released the body camera footage Friday, just one day after James Barker, 42, was killed in the Avenues neighborhood of the city.

In the video, you can see the officer approach Barker on the porch of a home.

“What are you doing in the area?” the officer asked.

When Barker explained he was offering to shovel snow, the officer responded that there is little snow on the ground and tells Barker that neighbors have called police about him.

The officer then asked Barker for his name.

“No, I’m not giving you my name...because I’m just doing my business,” Barker replied. “No I’m not giving you my name.”

Approximately a minute into their conversation, things escalated. The officer disputed Barker’s claim that he was out shoveling snow, and Barker got defensive.

“Why aren’t you giving me your name?," asked the officer. “You know you’re required by law to give me your name when I’m doing an investigation or you can be arrested for failure to give me information.”

“No, I’m doing my business,” Barker replied.

As they continued to argue, Barker became increasingly agitated and began screaming at the officer.

The video shows Barker stepping back and holding his snow shovel above his head. At that point, the officer appears to turn and the camera stops.

According to police, Barker hit the officer multiple times with the shovel, which disabled the camera. Seconds later, Barker was shot.

“Shot the fellow point blank range, 3 times in the stomach,” said Richard Grow, who witnessed the shooting.

Grow was driving down I St.  just as Barker and the officer started physically fighting. According to him, one of them tackled the other to the ground, outside a house on the street.

“One guy flies off the porch, somebody else flies off the porch and lands on him," Grow said, "I’m thinking this must be two roommates who came out of the house and are going to settle on the lawn. But then next thing I saw, he pulled out a gun and shot him.”

Barker lived just a block away from where he was killed, and according to his friends, was well known on the street.

“What I do know is that James wasn’t doing anything criminal,” said Summer Osburn, who went to college with Barker.

On Thursday, Barker’s girlfriend had asked him to break up some ice on their property. After he was finished, Osburn said he decided to offer the services to neighbors on the street.

Police have said it was a neighbor who called them about Barker, stating he looked like a suspicious person they’d seen in the area before.

Barker had lived on the street for 10 years.

“I think that there tends to be an over emphasis on what was the victim doing instead of a discussion around what could the police be doing,” said Osburn. “Why is the bullet the first response? Why aren’t there other efforts to disengage some sort of conduct?”

The shooting remains under investigation.

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190 comments

  • John

    That is what happens when ya bring a shovel to a gun fight. He was in the wrong and the officer in the right end of story. If officer can’t protect themselves then we will lose the battle of good vs evil.

    • Rich

      Hello John, I was a Police Officer for 12 years and I never fired my firearm. I was not present or witnessed that incident between the officer and the gentleman but I will tell You that if I was that officer I would have recognized the signs and spoke with him in a more reasonable manner in an effort to BE IN CONTROL of the situation. I would not have to shoot that man. He did not have to die. Police officers should learn to use brain force before resorting to bull force.

      The officer called for backup but did nothing psychologically to delay this man while reinforcement arrived. He could have gotten a name, address, and even a hand shake from the man if he had approached him with, ” Hello my friend, this is a nice house, do you live here?” Then move on to gain a level of trust and get a dialogue going, introduce himself and then ask the man nicely for his name. If the man refuse then call for reinforcement, wait for it, and wisely delay the man with a distracting conversation. Brute force does not always work. The gun should never be a first resort. The officer could have tased him, run away and watch him while backup arrive. I have ran away from many civilians during my 12 years. Times after that they return to thank and apologize to me.

      Thank you for reading.

      • Joshua Michaels

        BEST POST HERE SO FAR GO TO YOU RICHARD. thank you for this,being a police officer you would know. I love to read commentary from those non-officers who adage,”well he had it comin” since he attack the cop with a shovel etc.” I am glad you’re the VOICE of reason here,and well written,Need more like you,RIP TO THIS older,but still young man, ONLY in his EARLY FORTIES,thirties, late forties fifty etc. all too young to die,and i am sad to know this man is in heaven way TOO SOON,RIP premise on this cop action.He did NOT have to shoot him like this. and i am glad RICH you posted what you have posted,that i shared it on my personal FB Page. This is why many of my own race,irish/italian , we are angry in my family about this going on once again ,many marching where i am too,white,as well as, hispanic blk etc. protest more and i hope by doing so,change will become visible.
        God bless you.

  • Reba

    Anytime you attack an officer you should expect to get shot, tasted or maced. Anytime you comply you should expect to live. Justified. Cop was threatened, was on the ground & being hit with a weapon. Justified.

  • Phuqewe

    no pepper spray, no taser. Based off an alleged two calls, yet multiple people have stated they Re familiar with the man with the shovel who has lived on that street for ten years? Thank you officer judge dredd. No justice no peace.

    • Marshall

      So you believe it is “Justice” to beat a Policeman with a shovel and nothing happen?! Fact is, you don’t attack someone with a gun when all you have is a shovel. Give the Officer your name, he checks you out, and everyone goes home. You start beating me with a shovel, I would shoot you also! Protesting for Criminals is a JOKE!

  • James R.

    As a former officer and father of two currently serving officers I offer this experiment. I will come to your home with a snow shovel and a blank pistol. I will start hitting you in the head with the shovel as hard as I can. If you fear for your life or physical being all you have to do is point the pistol at me, fire it three times and I will stop. If you don’t, signifying you think there is a better way, that you can reason with, or to do so will indicate you overreacted, the I will give $100………………..to your grieving relatives to help pay for your funeral expenses.

    • PHA

      That would be a good experiment, but even without actually hitting with the shovel, this does not fit the irrational protesters agenda. Plus, those protesters do not have the stones to put up with what cops do on a daily basis. All they seem to be able to do is blow hot air and criticize what they can’t do.

    • Anonymous

      officer if you did that i would tell you to get out and start shooting real bullets for tresspassing on public property offcorse you wouldnt be on duty. lol
      ps.the pig pushed first dont forget

  • Brian

    Why is a bullet the first response? What do you do when someone starts beating you with a shovel? Why is resisting the first response?

    • chuckfromtacoma

      Conversation was the first effort and response. The bullet was the response to the officer being knocked to the ground and beaten with a deadly weapon. The cop was injured. Is he supposed to wait for a concussion or a broken leg to defend himself.
      That was a good job on the part of the officer. My hopes to him for a full and speedy recovery.

  • Matt

    Hey, all he had to do was put the snow shovel down then have a conversation with the officer. Officer in the wrong? Nope! I would have shot the guy as well. People, quit crying over every person being shot by a cop. They are dealing with some very difficult situations and people that have serious issues. No one in their right mind is going to swing a snow shovel at a police officer. Sad situation all the way around. We need to be thinking about the officer and how he feels. Hope he is okay and can return to work soon. We need good guys on the streets.

  • wildman

    And yet more reason for AMERICA to hate these tin star thugs and not give 2 hoots in hell if they are killed

    • BOB

      WILDMAN – The police deal with demented fools such as yourself on a daily basis. They don’t try to be gentle when they take pukes down and cuff them.

  • Pete

    Put yourself in the officer’s place. You’re given a call on a suspicious person. You investigate. The individual refuses to give any identifying information, saying he was just shoveling snow. You challenge the information, and he changes his story that he’s “looking for work in the future”. You again ask for identifying info, and he refuses. So, you call for backup. Almost instantly, he swings the SHOVEL at you and knocks you down the stair. Do you feel like your physical well-being is in danger? If so, what is your response?

    Under current standards, an officer is justified in using “deadly force” if the officer reasonably believed at that moment that he or others were in imminent danger. It doesn’t matter whether any danger actually existed.

  • steven

    For all those out there that think the cop was completely in the right you are wrong. The officer instead of de-escalating the situation he escalated it. Once Baker began getting agitated the officer should have backed off. Someone in an agitated state is becoming irrational, moving toward individual is almost guaranteed to lead to a physical altercation. The individual was not a danger to anybody at the moment the interaction started and only became dangerous after the officer escalated the situation.

    We need to remind officers that they serve the public and not their ego. If you read a lot about these type of situations you often realize the thing that upsets the officer the most is being disrespected. So many of these cases is clear that the officer caused the actual altercation through his behaviors. Police officers should be trained to avoid causing altercations but instead they are trained to take command of the situation all the time. This works well as long as everybody is rational or people are looking for someone to be in charge but not when someone is just walking down the street not doing anything directly wrong.

    In most first world nations cops do not kill more than a dozen people a year in the entire nation but here in the US the official FBI stat is just below 800 and that is with many precincts not reporting. A Nevada reporter compiled data from news clippings and suggests that number could be over 1000. If Canada kills 11 of its citizens and we kill 1000 of our citizens something is wrong with how we are policing.

    • Allen

      You sir, need to read a police man’s job description. It states to “maintain order”. Backing off is not maintaining order… he got a call about a suspicious individual and confronted the man who would not give a name, which can get you arrested, as the Officer stated in the video. You don’t back off if a guy, who you have no idea who he is, is screaming at you. As was stated previously, the guy had 3 warrants. Anyone would have pulled a gun and shot after being hit with a shovel. I think everyone should go on a ride along to see what an officer has to go through on a daily basis.

  • Josh

    If you check he had three warrants https://secure.utah.gov/warrants/results.html

    that’s why he didn’t want to give up his name and became aggressive and bucked because he knew he was going to jail and just so everybody knows the Taser and OC are not end all be alls they don’t effect everyone with that thick padded jacket the prongs of a taser probably wouldn’t have penetrated enough to be effective and it would have been stupid to go for your OC and leave yourself open to get hit in the face or such seen plenty of officers get knocked out leaving themselves open going for OC or Taser without creating distance and trying to spray from your back while getting hit with a shovel hard enough to cause fractures and break your body cam also improbable not to mention you’d cover yourself in OC making it harder to defend yourself so I completely understand why the officer did what he did

  • John W.

    I put myself in this situation… a Man attacks me with a snow shovel, I have no snow shovel, I have a Taser… hmm not going to work, to much clothing… what now? I may die, I need to protect myself, I only have second to decide, therefore all I have is my gun. Conclusion? Yep I’m going to shoot him. Even if I wasn’t a police officer…

  • Anonymous

    excuse me but i dont know if you guys have eyes but i do, clearly he was just looking out for his neighboors and the officer physically assulted him by pushing him before he hit the officer. what happened to self deffence. theres no indication or threats aggainst the officer but he still goes ahead and pushes the man. SLCP have gotten too cumfortable shooting people. and it needs to stop, reality check your still human and karma is a b####

  • kestrel

    this is sad. he apparently suffered a traumatic head injury, and just wanst stable afterwards. perhaps better support for people could help stop things like this.

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