Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah reviewing shooting of Darrien Hunt

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah is working with a division of the Department of Justice and the FBI to conduct a federal review of the shooting of Darrien Hunt, who was shot and killed by police in Saratoga Springs in September of 2014 after police say he lunged at officers while wielding a sword.

Robert Sykes, an attorney representing the Hunt family, received a letter from the organizations conducting the review saying they want Hunt's family and/or their representative to have the opportunity to provide them with any evidence they believe relevant to the review. The letter states the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah and the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division of the Criminal Section, is working with the FBI to complete the review.

Sykes said he thinks the review is a "very significant thing."

"I think they are taking what happened seriously," he said. "I'm glad to see it. I think what happened here was inexcusable. There was no reason for Darrien to be shot at or to be killed."

Sykes said he has filed "dozens and dozens" of civil right actions, and he said this is only the second time the Justice Department has investigated an action he's filed.

Owen Jackson, a spokesman for Saratoga Springs City, told FOX 13 News they, "welcome outside investigations by any agency."

Heather White, the attorney representing Saratoga Springs and the two officers, echoed that sentiment.

"The city welcomes the investigation," she said. "We have not been asked to provide any information as part of that review yet but are happy to cooperate with the Department of Justice if they ask."

FOX 13 News reached out to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Utah Friday, and spokesperson Melodie Rydalch said their office was not going to comment.

An evidence photo courtesy of the Utah County Attorney's Office showing the sword involved in the fatal shooting of Darrien Hunt

An evidence photo courtesy of the Utah County Attorney's Office showing the sword involved in the fatal shooting of Darrien Hunt

The shooting occurred September 10 of 2014. Police say Hunt lunged at officers with a samurai-style sword he had been carrying when police encountered him, but Hunt’s family has contested that claim. Police continued to fire at Hunt as he ran away on foot, stating his proximity to businesses and people while carrying the sword made him a possible threat.

The letter did not offer a specific time frame for the federal review of the incident, but it requested evidence from Sykes and the Hunt family with a deadline of March 25.

The Utah County Attorney's Office ruled the shooting justified. However, Sykes is representing the Hunt family in a civil wrongful death lawsuit that seeks $2 million in damages. Earlier this year he spoke with FOX 13 News, saying he believes Hunt was not a threat.

Sykes said in January: “How far is a kid that’s been hit in the arm, and the hip and shoulder going to go? It was unreasonable of him to finish Darrien off as he was falling. There was no threat to anybody, and it was an unjustified shooting. It was illegal and these officers should be held to account.”

White has previously responded to  that and other claims made in the lawsuit.

“He was not shot because he was running away,” White said earlier this year. “He was shot because the officers felt he who had just swung this weapon at a police officer and was heading toward where other innocent people were.”

FOX 13 News will have more information as it becomes available. For more of FOX 13 News' ongoing coverage of this case, click here.

13 comments

  • Linda Spencer

    Heather White is as DESPICABLE as her predecessor, Lindsay Jarvis. How these women can sleep at night defending these killer cops is BEYOND me. GREAT NEWS for the Hunt Family!! Now, let’s see that video from the Credit Union.

    • C'MON LINDA

      THE ONLY THING DISPICABLE IS PEOPLE LIKE YOU DEFENDING THESE OBSTRUCTIVE & DISTURBED INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE PROVEN TO BE CANCERS TO SOCIETY. SIT TF DOWN LINDA.

    • ANOTHERBOB

      That’s what they said about the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, right up until the Feds said they could not fault the police officer who shot the 18-year old black man. They’ll have the same result here in Utah.

  • Trace

    Heads will roll now. Guess they should’ve got an independent review board to investigate. Great news to me, might make these officers rethink their Judge, Jury, and executioner tactics!

    • ANOTHERBOB

      Whose heads will roll? When the Feds find that this use of deadly force was justified it will be a wake up call for the pukes who think they can rule the streets.

  • Realist

    Linda and Trace your both a bunch of idiots. You will see along with all the other PRO-CRIMINAL advocates will see when its complete that he was shot because of his own actions. Lindsay and Heather are great. If you feel you could do a better job why don’t you grab a gun and shield and do the job, but I’m sure you would end up crawling back into the hole you came from.

    • The Pen

      Hey UNrealist. Darrien was not a criminal. And for those who are criminals we do not execute them without due process, and for crimes that we deem fit. Running from cops is not one of those crimes.

      • C'MON PENCIL

        Disturbing the peace is a crime. he was called in for being suspicious. And fleeing toward a crowd with a 4 foot blade is a reason to be shot in the back, especially if it’s someone under the influences of hallucinogens.

      • ANOTHERBOB

        Chris Rock offers helpful tips for slow learners like The Pen on how to avoid getting your a$$ kicked by the police. These tips are easy to understand … even if you’re mentally challenged,

  • David Whittington

    The US Department of Justice is still managed by the biased and race-baiting and incompetent Attorney General Eric Holder. Eric Holder is Obama’s lapdog, yet Obama still FIRED Holder for gross incompetency, yet somehow Holder is STILL running the DOJ and it is Holder driving this ridiculous investigation of the death of Mr. Hunt. So let’s recap here: Mr. Hunt was high on hallucinogenic drugs as he ran through a Strip Mall swinging a three foot long sharp Samurai sword – a sword that could injure or kill an innocent shopper in about 10 seconds. Mr. Hunt’s death is his OWN fault. The way to NOT get shot by police is to NOT take drugs and run through Strip Malls swinging a long sharp sword. This entire DOJ investigation is a just a political farce.

    • JimmiJames

      So stop fabricating to cover up the coward actions of these trigger happy good ol boys. One of the cameras shows him walking by a couple of females. They walked right be him as if he was a non threat because he was a non threat. He was coming from a comic con which his attire is the norm. Plus those females in the video clam the cops bullied them to say he threatened them with the sword and they were scared so gtfo with your bs. When is something like this happens to someone you love. I bet my soul you will not sing the same tune.

      • BadChoiceshaveBadconsequences

        Comic con was the weekend before. This was almost a week after Comic Con, don’t forget his own brother was worried about him that day by how he acted and took off with the sword , how he posted he was going to be killed today on FB, and how he was on his way to Orem to see the girl with the restraining order, how he had been called on for domestic abuse before by his own family, had a drug problem, and then he pulled the sword and swung at officers. All he had to do is drop the sword. He could have even ran off without the sword and lived. He is only a victim of his own stupidity. Sorry family, I know you are hurting. He is an adult and made poor choices, stop attacking and ruining others to try to make them feel the pain of the poor choices your son made. The officers involved already carry the emotional pain of taking a life even when justified. It is a hard thing to carry. You also are putting other officers in danger by portraying them as monsters.

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