DA Says 'Civil Claims May Occur' In Fallout From Police Shooting | KUER 90.1

DA Says 'Civil Claims May Occur' In Fallout From Police Shooting

Oct 9, 2017

The fallout from the recent police shooting of a Utah man continues. District Attorney Sim Gill found a Salt Lake City police officer justified in his use of deadly force after he shot and killed Patrick Harmon in mid-August. The DA’s report is one of several legal responses that could come from Harmon’s death.

Officers found that Harmon had “active felony warrants” after pulling him over on his bicycle. Harmon tried to escape arrest and officers said he turned at them with a knife.

District Attorney Sim Gill says the report questioned whether it was reasonable for the officer, Clinton Fox, to fear for his life when he shot and killed Harmon.

"Based on what he’s saying and what the facts are, I cannot say that I can punch a hole in that reasonableness of his perception," Gill says. 

But bodycam footage from that night is fast and blurry, and can be interpreted in different ways. Lex Scott is an activist with Utah’s Black Lives Matter chapter. 

"He was shot in the back while he was turned and running away," she says, referring to Harmon. She believes he was holding a cigarette and says individuals have the right to carry weapons in the state.

Scott was at a rally of around 130 people in downtown Salt Lake protesting the DA’s decision over the weekend.

While the DA’s findings may end the chance of a criminal investigation, others are still possible.

"There may or may not be civil issues that may come out. Just because you can’t criminally prosecute somebody that doesn’t mean that there are civil claims of actions which may or may not occur," Gill says. 

The Police Civilian Review Board is starting an investigation into potential policy violations by the officers. The local chapter of Black Lives Matter is also fundraising for Harmon’s son and daughter to come to Utah. They’re considering the possibility of a lawsuit against the Salt Lake City Police Department.