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New video shows scene of officer-involved shooting in SLC; attorney asks D.A. to reopen case

WARNING: The videos and images embedded in this post show the scene of a fatal officer-involved shooting. While the videos are not necessarily graphic, viewer discretion is advised. 

SALT LAKE CITY --Exactly one year after a man was shot and killed during an altercation with a Salt Lake City Police Department officer, a former Davis County Sheriff says new video footage indicates the officer's actions may not have been justified.

James Barker, 42, was shot and killed January 8, 2015 after officer Matthew Taylor responded to a 911 call about a suspicious person and an altercation ensued, during which Barker appeared to strike the officer with a snow shovel.

The shooting was ruled legally justified by the District Attorney, but William "Dub" Lawrence, a former Davis County Sheriff who now advocates against police violence, claims the newly released video shows the officer killing Barker after the man was already handcuffed and subdued.

"[Barker] is laying on the ground, he's already on the ground incapacitated," Lawrence said, adding that, as the officer was crouched over the incapacitated Barker, they believe shots were fired.

"You hear the sounds of the shots, the three gun shots," he said. "...that shot seems muffled, the second shot, the third shot: there's three shots fired. Everyone testified there's three shots fired."

See the video above for the new footage, and click here for the previously released footage from the officer's body camera. 

Lawrence and other supporters met with Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill Friday afternoon to discuss the new footage and the possibility of re-opening the case. The meeting comes on the one-year anniversary of the fatal encounter.

"We're going to go back and review our materials that we have and see the context and whether that changes or alters our conclusion," Gill told FOX 13 News after he reviewed the footage presented by Lawrence Friday.

Gill also said the officer, who was previously cleared of wrongdoing in the incident, has now been placed on leave.

The photo gallery below offers a zoomed-in look at several still images from the video, and those screen shots were captured during the moments from the footage when Lawrence and others claim the officer was firing on Barker. The clip below shows a zoomed-in look at the video footage from that same moment. Lawrence said there is an audible series of "pop" noises that they believe are gun shots.

Attorney Robert Ruben is representing Barker's family, and he said he believes the video shows Barker being shot while on the ground.

"It appears the officer, contrary to what was told in the report, was actually crouched over the deceased and shot him point-blank range three times," Ruben said.

Lawrence said they only become aware of the new footage in November, when they received a lower-quality version. After obtaining a higher-quality version of the footage, they reached out for a meeting with the District Attorney.

Michael Millard, President of the Salt Lake City Police Association, issued a statement in support of Officer Taylor.

"The Salt Lake City Police Association stands by Officer Taylor 100% and we are confident in the initial investigation of the James Barker incident. We have full confidence the supplemental investigation will confirm the original justified ruling. It is our belief Officer Taylor did not shoot James Barker while he was handcuffed. We appreciate any evidence anyone can bring forward, however, to speculate regarding a conspiracy theory is both irresponsible and unproductive."

The incident began with a 911 call about a suspicious person. That caller reported Barker was carrying a snow shovel and knocking on doors, offering to shovel sidewalks for money. Click here for audio from that call. 

Because there was little-to-no snow on the ground, the caller felt the man's actions were suspicious and reported it. Police said neighbors reported they thought they had seen the same man in the area the day before, looking inside people's vehicles.

Body camera footage from the incident released the day after the shooting shows the officer approaching Barker in the vicinity of a front porch. The officer asked Barker what he was doing, and Barker explained he was trying to make money shoveling snow. After the officer pointed out the lack of snow and said the neighbors had reported the activity as suspicious, the officer asked for Barker's 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.”

The video shows Barker grow increasingly agitated, and he shouts at the officer and tells the man to go back to his car. At one point, Barker gestures emphatically at the officer, who appears to respond by pushing Barker away from him. At that point, Barker lifts the shovel over his head and moves toward the officer, swinging the implement.

There are several beeps as the camera's point of view tumbles toward the ground, which is where the video ends. Police said the camera was disabled in the altercation, but Friday, former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, who is involved with the push to re-examine the case, told FOX 13 they believe the camera was intentionally turned off by the officer, citing a clear beeping noise followed by a standard, 3-second delay--which he said can be heard just before the shovel swings downward.

A witness told FOX 13 News at the time of the shooting they saw the two men fighting, and he then saw the officer shoot Barker three times.

The fatal shooting was ruled legally justified by the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office. Sim Gill said that officer Taylor initially did not resort to lethal force, and only used his firearm after realizing the man's heavy winter clothing would prevent a Taser, which requires skin contact, from functioning.

In his original ruling on the shooting, Gill said the officer was repeatedly attacked.

"Usually in such altercations the person may assault an officer and run away -- that he continued to persistently attack and at one point as the struggle ensued, he felt that somebody tugging on his gun and of course that gave him greater concern," Gill told FOX 13 in 2015.

74 comments

  • Robyn

    Clearly that cop is a murdering pig! He should get the chair for that blatant abuse of power. May James get the justice he deserves.

    • Chris

      Weird that you could clearly hear the sirens of other officers coming, but not the clear and loud cracks of a pistol. Or the muzzle flash. Clearly Robyn is an ignorant keyboard commando.

    • anotherbob

      Clearly Robyn you are the pig. Like Chris stated you can clearly hear the sirens of other officers coming and other ambient noise, I turned up the volume super high and all you hear is a couple little little audio pops that could have been anything really. Had the officer actually fired his gun those rounds would have been a lot louder to the camera and you would have also shown some movement in the officers arms from the gun firing/recoil. But the obvious reason why this these claims are silly, what motive would the officer have? The guy attacked him with a shovel and he shot him, there is effectively no motive to then crouch over him and shoot him more times just for the fun of it. The officer was simply responding to suspicious activity called in by the neighbors, it was then James who escalated the situation and became hostile. James got what he deserved.

      • Amber

        Really, James got what he deserved. I have a family member who is a police officer and shooting a man three times with a shovel is not what he deserved. Police officers are trained to detain suspects. This officer chose to kill and abuse his authority. You are sick to think “death” is what he deserved.

      • Jared

        Guess using the pepper spray, batons, taser isn’t an option anymore huh? Sounds like going straight for his gun as a line of defense is the cowards way out. No wonder why cops are killing innocent people everywhere. They can’t even handle the simplest of situations. If lawyers have to go to school for years to learn the law, so should the police that are suppose to protect us. The officer was obviously poorly trained and deserves to be in prison like the vicious gang member he is. No human deserves to die in the hands of the law when there’s so many other solutions out there. I hope you get what you deserve bob for saying james got what he deserve. It’s only a matter of a time before your victimized by the police force too, but hey, guess you deserve it..

      • anotherbob

        Jared, if you bothered reading the story you’d see that tasing was not a good option because James had a thick winter coat on and thus the taser would be useless. And Amber, how might you go about detaining somebody then when they are threatening to hit you with a shovel? You armchair quarterbacks think it’s so easy but did you for a second put yourself in the officers shoes? You raise something towards an officer with intent to harm/injure/kill, prepare to get some hot lead in you.

      • RJ

        Anotherbob, it’s obvious to me that the officer was much too close to the man he found suspicious. How can I justify saying this? Because he was hit by the other party. The moment the officer saw him getting angry, he should have immediately put distance between himself and the potential threat. There were plenty of opportunities and plenty of time, but instead he decided to escalate the situation by grabbing him. I’m neither defending nor condemning Mr. Barker’s actions by pointing that out, simply stating a fact and most likely repeating what is (or definitely should be) SOP for an encounter where an officer confronts someone who could potentially become a threat. Yes, a less lethal form of detainment absolutely could have been used, but it would have required the officer to use common sense instead of testosterone in the precious few moments when he should have acted to mitigate the conflict.

      • Adam Day

        The gun is clearly shoved into his coat which muffles the shot. Also take into account that the person filming is two houses down and behind a glass window. Next you see the murdering pig holster his weapon.

    • Chris Ohsiek

      So tell me Robyn, had Officer Taylor let Barker seriously injure him or even kill him, would you then feel that Barker is the pig? Yeah! You’re whole perspective would change! If someone attacked you & you had to fight for your life, what would you have done? Do you also think that Megan Grunwald wasn’t an accomplice to Sgt Corey Wride’s death? So you feel that Officer Taylor had to sacrifice his own life?

      Officer Taylor was protecting everyone in the area due to Barker’s abnormal & suspicious behavior. Asking to shovel walkways that are not covered in snow or ice? Peeking into other people’s vehicles? & yelling back & trying to assault if not seriously injure or kill a police officer called to the scene who was acting very polite? Is this what normal people do? My god! Just watch an episode of Cops Reloaded & see for yourself what happens when you cooperate with the law vs. trying to fight!

      Barker sadly brought this on himself. Had he not knocked Officer Taylor’s taser gun off his waistband, had Barker not tried to reach for his gun, or for goodness sakes, had he cooperated with the investigation & just simply replied, “My name is James,” & just presented his DL, would’ve prevented all of this!

      Do you not think that Officer Taylor feels awful about this but had no choice & that the last thing he wanted to do was have Barker die? Again, what would you have done if someone was behaving out-of-control using a snow shovel as a weapon? For all we know, Taylor might’ve only shot Barker enough only to injure him, in order to subdue, until an ambulance arrived, yet because of Barker’s rebellious attitude, Barker probably wouldn’t stay calm or quiet to prevent the gunshot wound from killing him! You & Barker’s family are angry for your loss & Officer Taylor & others feel sorry about it.

      • Robyn

        Chris Ohsiek, it takes a special kind of coward to fear for one’s life and return deadly fire when confronted with a simple plastic shovel. Did you have a rough time in the playground growing up?

      • Mike

        Are you kidding me? This isn’t a case of a cop shooting someone during an attack to protect himself, this is a case of a cop shooting someone after an attack for revenge. Taylor already had Barker subdued when he executed him, it’s right there on the recording for everyone to see!

    • KellyEAndrews

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    • ANOTHERBOB

      The pig in this story turns out to be the man who swung a shovel at a police officer. Strange as it may seem Robyn police officers aren’t paid to let people swing weapons at them ….. and in this case the shovel was a weapon.

  • Mike

    But…look at those still shots. He’s handcuffing the guy in those stills, not shooting him. That’s normal for cops to handcuff wounded and potentially dead suspects.

    Maybe he did shoot the guy in the back, but this video does not support it at all.

    • Robyn

      Mike, did you have the sound turned off while watching the video? James is clearly face down on the ground, with his hands cuffed behind him – completely subdued, then you HEAR the shots, and see a cop murder a citizen.

      • mjgrennell

        I turned the volume up as much as I could. That did not sound like gunshots at all, it sounded like somebody holding a phone and the microphone picking up on the tapping of fingers as the person gets into position to film.

        Take a video with your phone and tap the side near the microphone. It will sound very similar to this video.

        Also, look at the stills in the photo gallery. Where is the gun in those stills?

      • Jed Ottesen

        MJGRENNELL I got to say without further analyzing the video via in higher quality and tech, I would have to say you made quite an observation. I turned my audio up and listened to the whole thing with my eyes closed. When doing this you can clearly hear several other pops as have been described like holding a cell phone and rubbing against the microphone, funny how when you’re told its something and it lines up, you just believe. Crazy, not saying innocence or guilt one way or the other but I wonder how much opinion is being manipulated by someone on a quest to sniff out police brutality or manipulation by the media.

  • Chris

    Robyn have you never heard a gun shot in your life?! On what planet is that the sound of a gun? That’s a new kind of stupid right there

    • Robyn

      Chris, I hike and bike near two different gun ranges. And I often go shooting with friends. I hear gunfire almost every week. I’ve heard gunfire from all kinds of weapons, including: shotgun, rifle, muzzle loader, derringer, and various pistols. What makes you think you qualify as an expert, watching TV?

      • anotherbob

        So you would know then Robyn that the pops heard in the video were not gun shots. It’s clear you have no idea what you’re talking about so please shut it.

    • Anotherbob

      If you bothered to even read the story you’d see neighbors called the cops because he was acting suspicious, that his claim of shoveling snow was odd due to the lack of snow. With that said the officer had every right to question James and it was he who became belligerent and hostile. People seem to have this idea that they can just tell an officer to scram and get lost when they are following up on a suspicious report.

      • Robyn

        Walking around one’s own neighborhood (where you’ve lived for 10 years and 98% of the people know you) does not make you suspicious. The rat neighbor was an absolute coward.

      • ANOTHER-ANOTHERBOB

        @ROBYN
        Walking around his neighborhood isn’t what got the suspect shot. Swinging a weapon at a police officer will always get his attention.

  • freewilltwo

    I dont really see where he broke any laws to be bothered in the first place, thats what law enforcement does now…they create a problem then end it with someones life

    • Kelly

      You do know it’s against the law to attack someone with a snow shovel right? The cop was responding to reports of a suspicious person and that dude was defensive and escalated it himself. When you unprovoked attack a police officer with a shovel you deserve what’s coming. This video clearly shows him being cuffed and like others have said some small noise by the person holding the phone, not being shot in the back. Shame on the news outlets for fueling this fire again.

  • Soopercolt45@gmail.com

    Looks like the point was taking the cuff off and putting them away.still the witness saw the point shoot him point blank in the chest 3 times. And the “puffy coat taser” excuse is b.s. gun control should be applied to police officers too.

  • David Whittington

    The way to NOT get shot by a cop is to NOT swing a deadly weapon (shovel) at the head of a cop. Another way to NOT get shot by a cop is to NOT swing a three foot long sword at a cop. Swinging shovels and swords at cops is NOT a good idea and could lead to a fatal outcome – which is what happened here. End of story.

    • bob

      It’s public record. Rocky Anderson isn’t talking about the medical examiner’s report because it doesn’t mesh with his goofball theories. Next up: He’ll claim the M.E. is “in on it.” And people in black helicopters.

      • Mary

        Genuinely curious to hear your thoughts and opinions on the video below…keep in mind the cop failed to tell anyone for 11 minutes thst he may have “accidently” fired his weapon and that the young man ended up dying about two weeks later. DA is refusing to file charges, saying it was negligent but not criminal. Happened in my fairly small hometown, where the DA has been the DA for nearly twenty years bc he’s never ran against.
        https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qmK8Ify3vi8

    • Carol Koleman

      Medical examiner a year ago found three gunshots to the back, close range which matches the account shown on the video.

  • Jake

    it doesn’t make sense that he was shot three times while already on the ground and in handcuffs. If he was fighting the officer before how was he laying so still on the ground if he wasn’t tased? Wouldn’t he have been fighting still if he was alive at that point? obviously he was shot before he was on the ground. And he was shot three times. So he couldn’t have been shot three times point blank while laying on the ground. It just doesn’t add up that he was shot while subdued.

  • bob

    Except that we’ve already seen the close-up video that proves this guy’s theory is made up.

    The cop’s “verbal judo” skills were certainly weak. He chose to be snarky, belligerent, sarcastic and demeaning. I believe he escalated the situation unnecessarily. But he was attacked with a show shovel. The shooting itself was justified by the time he pulled the trigger. Whether or not he could have defused the situation with a better choice of words and attitude is another matter.

    It’s not a trivial issue. You or I would go to prison if our words escalated a situation even if we fired our guns to protect our own lives. A shooter isn’t just responsible for the shot. He’s responsible for his share of what led up to it.

    But in the end the loon was trying to chop a man’s head off with a snow shovel blade. I’d have shot him. The shooting itself was perfectly justified. The cop was on the ground and being beaten to death and hacked to bits.

    • Adam Day

      Really? He was being hacked to bits? After the pig murdered the handcuffed suspect, he seemed to get up and walk away just fine. He even flagged down his backup arriving. Are you a cop just trying to troll everyone?

  • bob

    There are two kinds of people who think those sounds are gunshots: People with a political ax to grind, and people with no firearms experience.

    I’ve heard thousands of gunshots, in person and on tape. Those were not gunshots. Not even close. And the so-called “ex-Sheriff” who suggests otherwise knows it too.

    Anything that loony moonbat Rocky Anderson is involved with has to be a whacko conspiracy theory. The guy hears voices in his head.

  • Dave

    I have firearms experience and those sounded like gun shots. You have to remember the phone was picking up the sound from 2 houses away and indoors. The echo if the shots you hear is very telling.

    • Ron

      pellet guns dont compare to the guns used by the police. its funny how with all the distance you just described, he phone clearly picks up the sound of the sirens without muffling them.

      • Carol Koleman

        Thank you Dave for being the rare voice of reason on this thread. Bob and Ron, the gun shots are clear but muffled because the gun is pressed point bland against James’s back. His down coat muffles the sound, much like a shot makes while a pillow is pressed against the muzzle. You know, execution style. The evidence (not theory) shown in this video is compelling enough for the DA to reopen the case, so Bob and Ron, ya’ll need to get informed…if possible.

      • Ron

        Carol, i understand that you lost a friend but you are letting you emotions cloud your judgement. Dave may claim to have “weapons” experience, but as a media specialist I can assure you that the pops you hear on the video is the phone being handled the the person and not gun shots. Second, all the images on this site clearly show that the officer has no gun in his hands, you need a gun to be able to shoot someone and there is no gun in this video. Also, Sim Gill stated he would review the materials from the original case and compare it to the video and THEN he would CONSIDER re-opening the case if there was a need to do so. Lastly, Im sorry but Lawrence is not looking out for you, he is only using you guys to get back at police for being arrested, charged and prosecuted for beating his wife.

      • RJ

        Ron, I too work extensively in media, as I have for the last 20 years. I can tell you the best determination that can be made from the video is that it is inconclusive. I’m NOT saying that the video is a smoking gun. But you can’t definitively say the sound picked up on a low-quality mic on an unknown model cell phone shooting through the glass from two houses away definitely isn’t gunshots simply because it doesn’t match the audio profile you’ve previously captured, unless of course you’ve aimed for that exact situation. The best way to rule it out, of course, would be to recreate the situation as closely as possible and fire shots in a similar manner to see how the details match up.

        I, too, tend to agree that it is room noise of some type (cell phone handling, something tapping the phone, etc), but I cannot say with any professional certainty it is not what Dub says it is.

        Bottom line is that the video is not a smoking gun, and should not be treated as such. A further investigation into the details of the death are warranted. Going beyond that based solely off of this video would be a violation of the officer’s rights. And from what I can tell, the rights of the accused is what both sides are ultimately arguing over.

      • Robyn

        Ron, you are the one showing a lack of knowledge and experience. those are clearly gunshot sounds. Touching your phone does not produce an echo.

    • Jared

      everyone on here that’s claiming there were not gun shots obviously thinks they’re an expert analysis from a awful cell phone footy and almost three houses away. Dave’s one of the few voices of reason I’ve seen comment on this. The rest of you should stick to your day jobs.

      • Ron

        It just so happens that my day job is as a media specialist……in other words i work with a lot of videos, pictures and other fun stuff. I have recorded gun shots before for small movies…..those three pops are not guns shots, they are the phones microphone being touched. Im sorry but Dave needs to take your advise seeing as to how he came to that conclusion from a “awful cell phone footy and 3 houses away”.

  • Seeking Truth

    I thought this cop was injured? He looks pretty good to me. There are some questions which need to be answered in this video.

    • Ron

      the cop was injured, he had a broken arm and foot.

      Whats your point?

      if you are referring to the fact the officer fought on after he was injured then maybe you should look at the Mayweather Hernandez fight….Mayweather broke his hand on hernandez’s head and still fought on to win the fight. Youll be surprised what adrenaline and the will to survive will allow people to do.

      • Robyn

        Ron said “the cop was injured, he had a broken arm and foot.”
        That was never proven. Do you know that for sure. The cop in this video doesn’t look disabled in the slightest.

  • Mandy

    The cop is handcuffing the man. There is no gun out, only a dangling mic that he puts in his pocket as he stands up.

  • Carol Koleman

    I’m sickened by this video, James was my friend. That police officer is nothing less than a cold blooded murderer. And Chris, the three gun shots are clear, muffled because the officer had the muzzle against James’s down coat. You also would not see a flash because it was point blank. Execution style while James was cuffed and lying still while face down.

    • Chris Ohsiek

      Plastic or metal Bill, shovel or no shovel, if you were a cop and had to make a split second decision if someone abnormal was attacking you, what would you have done? If you read carefully and listen to the news report, Barker had knocked the officer’s taser gun off his waistband and was reaching for his gun.

      Amber, we don’t know yet that Officer Taylor shot Barker three times. No one knows at this point. Ask your family member who is also a cop what he or she would’ve done if a suspect hit him or her with a snow shovel, knocking him or her to the ground, resisting arrest, knocking the taser gun off his or her waistband, and trying to reach for the officer’s gun? Likewise, Jared.

      Carol, if James was your friend, then you should advise him not to yell back and attack other people, especially law enforcement, and also not to go around acting suspicious and risk getting arrested. It’s extremely tragic what happened, but had he acted civil and obeyed the officer, he may have been given a verbal warning and walked away.

  • Kevin

    Having read the report filed by Sim Gill and watching the video, the witness officer statements are a crock of you know what. It’s amazing that our law enforcement establishment can concoct such a convincing cover up of what is clearly a public execution of a subdued assailant in our city, in broad daylight, which calls into question a broad swath of other such “investigations” by the District Atty’s Office.

    • Kevin

      Addition to my comment. I can’t imagine why a federal investigation into the cover up and subsequent support of the cover up wouldn’t be required in the fallout of this shocking video evidence. Were the so called witnesses coerced to lie? And the ballistics expert examining the 3 fatal wounds should be examined, as well. I’m certain, if it were an officer that had died, the ballistics evidence would have shown an execution slaying of a hand-cuffed, subdued victim. Pathetic!!!

  • jo browm

    The people of today who blindly support men in uniform and cry out for violence against others .Are the same people of yesterday who blindly supported men in uniform and cried out “crucify Him” . police will protest and serve you right to the grave.. and then smile for the camera and always ,always say i was afraid for my life…or i wanted to go home tonight.. what ..like that person you just killed didn’t have the same fears and wants..

  • Jared

    a bunch of gang members in uniform. Officer claimed to have a broken leg and broken arm yet gets up perfectly fine. If anyone else did this they’d be locked up in jail awaiting trial. Yet he gets administrative leave. This is the kind of things that start riots over. America, land of the free, free to the people in uniform.

    • Ron

      Mayweather fought and beat Carlos Hernandez with a broken hand that he got in the fifth round of the match……the fight went the full 12 rounds with the victory going to Mayweather. You’ll be surprised what the human body can withstand when it is in the fight or flight mode ( AKA survival mode) because of adrenaline. And no not everyone supporting this cop are cops themselves, I am just tired and annoyed to hell of seeing people blaming everyone else from police to judges and not the person that committed the mistake of criminal act. My taxes could be going to better your kids school, instead they are wasted on pointless matters such as the new video. Lawrence is a joke and should just stick to his anger management treatment instead of using this mans friends and family to get even for having to go to jail for domestic violence (AKA beating his wife).

  • RJ

    This zoomed, stabilized, audio-enhanced, and slowed version of the shooting doesn’t show anything conclusive. You can say it’s evidence either way, but it’s clear to an objective observer that it is no smoking gun. Perhaps worthy of further inquiry (which is happening), but nothing definitive from what I can see.

    • RJ

      Look at the video I posted just above your comment. It has been stabilized and is much easier to see…that it is not in any way definitive. I know everybody wants a smoking gun to show that police (even in Utah) abuse the trust placed in them by so many, but this video is not that smoking gun. Perhaps it can help shed new light on the matter, but it a dead-to-rights shot it is not.

    • Ron

      Dang Deb, you have some good eyes on you, for the rest of us on here could you please elaborate as to what the officer did with his gun after “shooting” this man? Because I have watched this video on other sites as well and I just cant see the gun or what happened to it after the officer shoots it. I see that he uses one hand to rest on his knee while getting up and the other hand is free of any black objects.

  • Sb10

    How would the neighbor have known to pull out their phone? Something had to of triggered him/her to get their phone out, and it had to of been heard because you can’t see the porch where the altercation took place.

  • ANOTHERBOB

    Chris Rock offers some helpful tips to pukes who are fearful of what the police may do to them. Follows those tips and the police won’t have to kick your backsides.

  • ANOTHERBOB

    to CAROL KOLEMAN and all the other pukes that failed in their attempt to brand a decent police officer as a “cold blooded murderer”: The Salt Lake County Prosecutor, Sim Gill, said this officer was justified in using deadly force.

    Try behaving yourself Carol and please don’t call the police when your life or the life of a loved one hangs in the balance.

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