Utah County Attorney: Officers were justified in Darrien Hunt shooting

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UTAH COUNTY, Utah -- An officer-involved shooting that killed a 22-year-old Saratoga Springs man in September was justified, Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman said Monday.

Buhman announced his findings after a nearly 2-month long investigation into the Sept. 10 death of Darrien Hunt.

“I find that Saratoga Springs Cpl. Matthew Schauerhamer and Officer Nicholas Judson were justified in their use of deadly force against Mr. Hunt," said Buhman. "Their belief that deadly force was necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury was reasonable."

When Cpl. Schauerhamer and Officer Judson approached Hunt outside a Saratoga Springs Top Stop convenience store, investigators said their entire exchange only last 37 seconds.

Both officers noticed Hunt was carrying a sword in a sheath, and as they spoke, Schauerhamer asked him to put it down.

“I can’t do that,” Hunt said, according to documents. “It’s my sword.”

That’s when Hunt lunged at both of them, according to Buhman.

"As Mr. Hunt was speaking with the officers, abruptly and without any apparent provocation, withdrew the sword from its sheath, and immediately swung or stabbed it toward at least one of the officers,” said Buhman.

In response, Schauerhamer started shooting, prompting Hunt to take off. Both officers chased after him and three more shots were fired as Hunt turned a corner toward the nearby Panda Express restaurant.

In total, seven shots were fired, with only one coming from Judson’s gun.  Buhman explained that Schauerhamer was the closest to Hunt and was worried he was heading in the direction of more people as he ran.

“He did not stop after being given a verbal command to stop,” Buhman said. “The time it would have taken for Mr. Hunt with the sword still in his hand after having stabbed or sliced at officers, it would have been a matter of seconds before he reached someone else.”

The argument, however, is not enough evidence to justify what happened, according to Hunt family attorney, Robert Sykes.

"I think it's a whitewash. I think it's an exaggeration,” Sykes said. “I think they ignored good hard evidence to be contrary.”

Sykes pointed to evidence like the State Medical Examiner’s autopsy report, which showed Hunt was shot six times. Based on the wounds, the ME found some of the bullets struck Hunt from behind.

"We do not believe a swing was taken with the sword, as was alleged. But even if that happened, the shooting in the back was not justified,” Sykes said.

The family plans to file a lawsuit against the city’s police department, as soon they complete their own investigation into the shooting.

Their efforts won’t delay the reinstatement of both Schauerhamer and Judson, a move Police Chief Andrew Burton stands behind.

"They followed Utah law. They followed their training,” Burton said. “At some point, they have to make a very difficult decision in just a matter of seconds, and then the rest of us get to Monday-morning quarterback the thing for years.”

The officers will go through some retraining before they’re working at full capacity again.  They are scheduled to be reinstated within the next few days.

Click here for previous coverage.


  • T Fudpucker Tucker

    Of course the mother can sue the police but the trick will be in convincing a jury of decent law abiding citizens to agree with her. It just won’t happen,

    • Edain

      I’m a decent law- abiding citizen, and I believe she deserves to be heard. It angers me that people judge so readily based merely on what they read in the news, which is easily spun and we all know it. Your condemnations and implications are your own. If you are a “decent law abiding citizen,” don’t assume you speak for all of us. You speak for ignorance and you can keep it!

      • Trace

        They are not justified in shooting someone in the back. It sickens me that these officers are too quick to kill someone. I would be sure that they would lose in Civil court. I hope the mother does sue these loser officers. God bless her!

      • Bob

        Trace – A hung jury won’t get the job done, and a majority of Utahns don’t consider the police “losers”. Don’t expect the police to nursemaid a fool running around with a sword. You could get shot doing that.

      • bree

        If you were on the jury, you would have more details & be able to give a better judgement than what you can with this BS “news” the media spouts out, adding speculation when all they really have is what happened and where it happened.

  • Sterling Wulff

    There you have it.. again. GUILTY !!!!!
    But that’s coming from the pie hole of the POLICE POLICING the POLICE, County Attorney Jeff Buhman.
    Just six words Jeffrey…. SHOW US THE DASH CAM VIDEO !!!! Or IS there one ?????
    As the news proudly presents and of all the police scare tactics used to shape social behavior… Where’s the dash cam video ????
    We ALL KNOW you have it, so show us !!!!

    Jeffrey so convincingly and DISTINCTLY said in his first local news cast that Darrien Hunt was standing “DIRECLY IN FRONT OF A MARKED POLICE CRUISER” quote, unquote. He then unsheathed the sword then took a swiping lunge at the officers.

    Looks to me Mr. DA Buhman, or whoever the hell you are… that YOU might as well have murdered Darrien. You’re CERTAINLY NOT truthful in your “professional” policing of the matter, so SHOW US THE DASH CAM VIDEO…..

    West Valley, Salt Lake, Sarasota Springs police… what different does it make ??? Looks like the new trend in police brutality is to murder first and then be cleared later. Sleep well tonight DA Buhman…. and enjoy your family at Thanksgiving, Christmas and all birthdays. Just the way Darrien should be able to, but now can’t

    • Ron

      heres a news flash for ya……not all departments can afford to install dash cameras on their cars. Just like its a great idea for body cams but again budget constraints wont allow for all officers to have a body cam.

    • T Fudpucker Tucker

      The Utah County DA isn’t interested in your uneducated opinion STERLING WULFF. If you don’t like his ruling may I suggest that you hold your breath until your face turns blue.

      • NathanB

        Just like you being ignorant and disrespectful makes you look like a JERK. If you are going to bash on people at least put part of your real name in here. Maybe you should go hold your breath until you turn blue, But than again with what you have spouted from your Fingers, you have already killed a few brain cells by that very process. You spewing Hate and Ignorance doesn’t make you right, just makes you hateful and Ignorant

  • CJ

    This makes me so mad what is the point of taser guns those cops had enough time to use them they didnt need to shoot and kill him those officers are pathetic there was no justice there at all

    • Ron

      would you take a knife to a gun fight??? NOOOOOO!!!!!
      Then why ask an officer to take a taser( that only fires once and then you need to reload a cartridge to get a second and last shot in) to a knife/sword fight(where the person can slash countless times without having to reload)?

      Be real!!!

      I sword is a deadly weapon and a gun is its match not a taser or OC.

  • otuscyllene

    Justified mistake? I believe that Comic Con in Salt Lake had just ended. Mr. Hunt might have suspected that the two police officers were playing a role, just as he was, and didn’t expect to be shot. After being shot 3 times it is no wonder that he wanted to get away. A mistake was made by the police in not using better judgment and considering other less lethal options. There are 1000’s of Utahans with metal disabilities that could have been in this same situation. We will have to wait a few years to see what a jury decides, but then this is going to really end up being more about money and how much Saratoga Springs is will to spend in defending their police and who is going/willing to help the Hunt family with legal fees.

  • Utah Red

    Shot in the back. If police can legally do it then any of us can do it too, right? Try shooting someone in the back and see if you aren’t arrested. Any suit will hinge on whether or not Hunt was an immediate danger to anyone else at the moment he was shot in the back. If not then the cops should suffer the same consequences that you and I might suffer. Two points of law; they were not being threatened when they shot him in the back, and the police are under no obligation to protect the public. Put another way, you cannot sue them for not protecting you.

  • Dick Thompson

    You would have had a different tune if he would have ran down the street and took your loved ones head of with his sword. Sometimes, yes sometimes it is justified to shoot someone in the back. It comes down to “Was he a danger to himself or others” the answer to that is a great big YES. By the way, have the guts to put your real name on your post’s.

    • Utah Red

      Unless you were there then you don’t know the answer to your question, Dick. Pure speculation on your part. Since I am in disagreement with men with guns I prefer to use a pseudonym. If it worked for the Founding Fathers I guess its okay if I do the same, whether you like it or not.

    • Matt Weyer (@mbweyer)

      Police initially say Hunt lunged as they were exiting the car. Bystander photo shows the police talking with him while all are standing outside the car. Police point out that Hunt takes hallucinogenics. The toxicology report came back completely clean. Report says that witness Leonard Zogg told detectives that Hunt lunged at officers with sword and then ran after being fired at. Zogg has publicly said he did not tell police that, rather he said he never saw Hunt swing his sword and that police began firing after Hunt started running. And the departments admits not having interviewed the officers six days after the incident. Hmm.

  • m

    For the families eating at Panda Express who saw a crazy idiot running from police with a sword in his hand are sure grateful he was stopped before he caused harm or death to an innocent person. If he had put down the sword and NOT run, he would be alive today. No pity here..

    • Utah Red

      If the man had been running at me with a sword I would have put a bullet in him too. However, if he was running away would I have been justified? Only if he was threatening somebody else, and even then it would be iffy. I’m sure I could expect to spend $thousands defending my actions.

    • Nana

      FYI…There were no families eating at Panda Express. The business was closed and the manager has already stated the restaurant was empty.

    • Bob

      It is the suspect that dictates the level of force the police will deploy Paul. For the garden variety slow learner like yourself a taser would be sufficient.

  • Paul

    No tazer. or tasers? don’t cops know how to shoot someone in the leg or arm to slow them down guess its death or nothing

    • T Fudpucker Tucker

      The trick to shooting someone in the leg Paul is in getting the suspect to hold still long enough for you to take careful aim.

  • Hvacrpro (@Hvacrpro)

    It is only reasonable when a cop defends himself… yet it is minimizing a crime, denial, and playing the victim when others defend themselves and is serious bodily injury and spends 5 years in prison for breaking a nose with a punch defending themselves. God Bless you hypocrites.

    • Bob

      The law allows you to use deadly force under a specific set of circumstances HVACRPO. That’s why the State issues concealed carry permits. The law doesn’t allow drunks to throw punches at each other during a brawl. Stay off the booze and keep your fists to yourself.

  • NathanB

    I am sorry, but SHOOTING someone in the Back is NEVER Justified. They could have Tazed him at any time and we wouldn’t be in this situation. Bob your Comment, bob: She’s got a chance if she can get a jury full of drug-addled, psychotic wannabe ninjas, borders on disrespectful. Drug addled?, I would gladly serve on a Jury for this Civil Trial. There were alternatives to Shooting someone in the back. Not to mention bob you said chasing him around a Store, HE WAS NOT IN A STORE, yes he was approaching a strip mall but not in a store.

    • Bob

      Read Utah State Criminal Code Title 76 Chapter 2 Section 404 before making statements which demonstrate your ignorance. Display a weapon around a police officer and you’re living on borrowed time.

  • Greg

    This is a tragedy a young life taken. The problem is society no respect for human life. It is happening with gangs and with random normal kids like Darian the choice to end life seems like it’s no big deal to end a life

  • T Fudpucker Tucker

    STERLING WULFF wants to call Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman a pie hole and NATHANB wants to get hot and bothered because someone replies? Don’t like the DA’s ruling NATHANB? Blubber about it to the next police offcer you see

    • NathanB

      Well… I have actually talked to a few officers about this, they have all stated that with the subjects back to them I Taser would have been the best form to take him down. 6 Shots from behind was not the right way to handle this. And yes I do tend to get a little HOT when IDIOTS Bash on other people points of Views just to make themselves feel better about themselves.

      • T Fudpucker Tucker

        People that don’t know what they’re talking about NATHANB irritate those of us who do. Behave yourself when being detained by the police and you have a very high likelihood of surviving the experience.

  • Bob

    Utah Red – You have the right to use deadly force to defend your life or the life of another … but that’s hard to prove the suspect if fleeing. If you carry a badge the law is different. And no, Utah Red, I wouldn’t expect you to be able to understand the difference.

    • Utah Red

      Feel free to educate me, Bob. Cite the law that gives LEO’s the right to shoot somebody without justification. Don’t feel bad if I don’t hold my breath while I wait.

      • Sterling Wulff

        Hey Mr. “comment about everything” Bob –
        That’s the problem here, and you don’t seem to either care or notice that you’re being HAD at every turn you make in society….
        Yeah, that’ll prove it… get an investigative report ON the police BY the police and there you have it !!
        Wake up Roberto and stop being what government at all levels WANT you to be…. a loyal lemming.

      • Utah Red

        You made the outrageous statement that the law is different for LEO’s, Bob. Now you think DA’s can make law? If we needed proof to tell you don’t know what you’re talking about there it is.

    • Bob

      Threaten a police officer with a deadly weapon CC and you’ll find out first hand just how quickly they can react. Most people learn from the mistakes of others. You sound like one of the others.

    • Sterling Wulff

      CC – You can leave the “jury” part of the equasion as it seems most trending law enforcement just goes from judge to executioner at will and then you have the very people that murdered your loved one conduct a “full investigation” that concludes all that transpired and finds their officers NOT GUILTY at all and return to “service” while on full paid leave.
      Cops with guns – not a very well thought plan……. they don’t “carry” to protect YOU, they carry to “protect” themselves and won’t think once before pulling the trigger….

  • phil

    They had no justification to stop him in the first place, but hey, what’s violating your rights among cops???

    • Bob

      Police responded to a 911 call to a dispatcher saying a man was walking along Redwood Road carrying a samurai sword. Perhaps you should contact the Utah County DA and tell them where they got it wrong Phil.

      • Bob

        There was nothing pretend about the suspect’s sword, or the 911 call that sent officers to the scene. Behave like a normal human being and you will have a remarkably good chance of surviving your next encounter with a police officer.

        Mr. Hunt was a suspect …. not a victim.


      Stop your whining Phil. The police have never violated your right to act like a decent human being, and they never will.

      • otus

        Why no mention of the 100’s if not 1000’s of people seen caring swards, bows, clubs, various guns at Salt lake Comic Con on September 4-6, the week-end previous to this clearly “accidental” shooting.

      • Bob

        Otus – Cause none of them were stupid enough attack a police officer with a sword. Geeez – are you really that dense?

      • otus

        Bob, when you use insults to defend your positions it weakens your argument. Google “salt lake comic con 2014” and see all the images of the threatening attendees who were not stopped and shot at by police(just 3 days earlier). I am not a supper hero but I have friends that think they are, I will not worry about them as much and will feel safer if our police are better trained in responding to people dressed in costumes caring around pretended weapons. Mr. Hunt’s actions, although not the most intelligent, are not unreasonable for someone playing a roll as a supper hero. Maybe even training might be offered at the next comic con on proper sword and pretended weapon etiquettes when comforted by police.

      • otuscyllene

        With Evermore coming in 2015 to nearby Present Grove. Which will likely put many Evermore Park attendees at risk of being stopped by police if they are treated the same as Mr Hunt was. I think Saratoga Springs should find a way to settle this without blaming the poor victims which includes Mr. Hunt and the police.

      • Sterling Wulff

        WRONG big Bob – It’s CHECKMATE on you.
        Government DEPENDS on uneducated servant slaves like you to continue to do as they please and not be held accountable for anything what so ever…. so keep you head in the sand Bob, it really does look like that’s where you belong.
        Maybe try something NEW in your “life” Bob, like thinking for yourself …. WAIT, I take that back, now we might have a REAL problem on our hands …..

      • Bob

        Perhaps you should use your superior knowledge to explain to the uneducated Utah County DA where he got his ruling on this case all wrong and set him straight. Only a fool would presume to know more about a specific case than investigators who have poured over the evidence for months. You’re not a fool are you Sterling?


      • Sterling Wulff

        Nope, not at all… how about you Bob ??? You still believe everything Obama says or Eric Holder says or everything “disclosed” in the White House Press Conferences ?? It’s ALL truth, right Bob ???

        So you don’t believe that the police policing the police is a bad and compromised way to conduct business ???

        What about insider trading and Congress ?? Is that a “truthful” LIE of a FACT that even Ms. Pelosi admitted to ??

        What do you say Bob… you want to believe everything shoved down your throat then La La La to the park for a worderful day in the sun ??

        You are completely gullible and you are ALSO part of the very people why people in power ARE in power … because people like YOU Bob swear to God what you think you “know” is true.

        Nice showing Bob… you’re a real self thinker. Do we see maybe a run for Congress Bob ????

        I sure as hell WOULDN’T vote for you.

      • otuscyllene

        Utah DA congratulates Saratoga Spring police department for preventing terrorist attach on residents. Early this morning at 4:00 am a 991 call into police department antlered the police of a group of vehicles driving around the city leaving incendiary devices on the porch or driveway of many residents. Police jumped into action and collected all the possible incendiary devices. Fortunately when they were analyzed by the bomb squad it was discovered that the trigger mechanisms were missing in each device. On the same day Sale Lake Tribune also reported that Santiago Springs resident were also hit by a string of burglaries of early morning news papers.

  • Bob

    It isn’t easy to get the police to shoot you. Too much paperwork. You really have to put some extra effort into it.

  • diane

    Justified?-my a__! If this would’ve happened in Ferguson- there would’ve been a riot! There needs to be a separate
    and independent investigation done. Being shot in the back several times (even one time is too many) is unacceptable and indicative of police brutality! I hope the family sues the pants off the Saratoga Springs Police Dept.,
    and those officers involved are fired, never to work in the Police Force again!

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