Video shows Utah police fatally shooting man from behind as he fled

Police face no charges amid accusations of racial profiling and brutal executing in case of Patrick Harmon, 50, who was pulled over for cycling without a light

Police in Utah fatally shot a man from behind while he was running away from policemen, according to freshly released footage, which has sparked accusations of racial profiling and a” brutal execution “.

Prosecutors in Salt Lake City have said officers were justified in killing Patrick Harmon, 50, who was pulled over for riding a bicycle without a illumination and who attempted to flee when police tried to arrest him. Police are not facing charges despite the fact that the body-camera footage captured policeman Clinton Fox shouting” I’ll fucking shoot you !” from a distance before he fired three bullets into Harmon, who was running in the opposite direction.

” They simply murdered him flat out ,” Alisha Shaw, Harmon’s niece, told the Protector on Thursday after watching the footage.” They are lying. There is no way they were threatened by anything. He was merely trying to get away .”

Civil rights activists said the killing of Harmon was the latest example of police barbarism and a prejudiced criminal justice system in the US, where officers kill black men at disproportionately high rates. Data has shown that across the country, black citizens and people of color are stopped by police and targeted for low-level offenses at higher rates than white residents, and some reports have suggested that police stop and cite black cyclists for minor infractions with much greater frequency than others.

Salt Lake officials have claimed that the killing of Harmon was legal because the officers feared for “peoples lives”, even though the video, released to local media, revealed that Harmon was not advancing toward them. Another officer said he fired his Taser at the same period that Fox shot Harmon. The footage demonstrated the officers handcuffing Harmon as he lay on the ground face-down, groaning in pain.

Patrick Harmon. Photo: Courtesy of Harmon family

The district attorney’s office claimed that Harmon said ” I’ll cut you” and turned and faced policemen with a knife as he was running. The video, however, raises questions about the narrative. Harmon cannot hear anything generate that threat and was running away from the officer , not facing him, when he was killed.

” He was frightened. All he did was operated ,” said Adriane Harmon, another niece, who was sobbing after watching the footage for the first time Thursday.” It hurts … They said’ I’m going to kill you’ and they shot him three times. He’s just moaning on the ground .”

At the start of the video, Harmon appeared tearful and exasperated about police attempting to arrest him. According to attorneys, policeman Kris Smith pulled him over because he saw him” ride his bicycle across all six road lanes and a median” and he didn’t have a” required red rear tail sun “. The policeman said he wanted to “discuss the situation” with Harmon.

The policeman eventually called for backup and determined that Harmon had an outstanding warrant for aggravated assault, according to attorneys. Harmon seemed” emotional and distraught” and told police that he attempted to take care of his warrant, Fox witnessed.

Salt Lake City has now been received national kudo for its “de-escalation” train, aimed at encouraging officers to communicate with people and restriction showdown and use of lethal force-out. The department even gives out” de-escalation awards” to recognize officers who rely on these tactics.

The death of Harmon is another reminder, activists said, that progressive policies do not stop officers from unjustly killing black Americans who do not pose a threat.

” That policeman disregarded his de-escalation training ,” said Lex Scott, a local Black Lives Matter organizer.” It’s just brutal. How could anyone with eyes and ears believe that that officer was justified ?”

Police declined to answer questions about the example, but the chief, Mike Brown, said in a statement:” We trust the process and support the decision from district attorney Sim Gill. I believe our policemen have the training and judgement and ability to make split-second decisions in dynamic situations .”

Gill added in a statement:” Officer Fox reasonably believed deadly force was necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to himself and/ or others and therefore his use of deadly force-out was’ justifiable ‘.”

Antoinette Harmon, a 54 -year-old sister, said the family grew up in St Louis, Missouri, but afterward endeavoured to Utah, where they often experienced racism and racism. The household hadn’t seen Patrick Harmon for several years since a funeral for one of his brothers- a demise that hit him hard, said Antoinette. She said her brother may have been struggling with mental illness, and the family believes he may have been homeless at one point.

” The police are going to stick together no matter if it’s wrong or right ,” she added.” They don’t care about black lives .”

Police are rarely charged and nearly never convicted for use of force in the US, where the law generally permits officers to use lethal force-out if they claim that they perceived a threat.

” He was just being profiled ,” said Shaw.” Why do we have to fight so hard for justice? All we want is to be treated equal as a black person instead of being profiled and looked at as if we were security threats .”

Antionette said her brother was ” goofy and fun to be around” and helped her raise her children.” He did everything he could. He was like a defender. He induced sure that nobody hurt us .”

Contact the author: sam.levin @theguardian. com

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