A body cam has confirmed that Dillon Taylor, the unarmed 20-year-old from Salt Lake City who was shot by a police officer just days after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, was walking away from cops when he was shot dead. Despite the footage and witnesses’ claims, District Attorney Sam Gill ruled on Tuesday that the shooting was justified, reports the Salt Lake Tribune.
Gill says Officer Bron Cruz had sufficient reason to believe the young man was a threat and was about to pull a gun out of his pants when he and two other men were stopped on Aug. 11 as they exited a 7-11 convenience store. The three men fit the descriptions of suspects who a 911 caller says had “flashed” a gun in public that day.
Taylor’s brother and cousin reportedly complied with the officers’ orders to hold up their hands, but the victim, who was listening to his headphones at the time, told them “No, fool” and kept walking, according to police, reports The Free Thought Project.
“He couldn’t hear them, so he just kept walking. Then … they had guns pointed at his face. That’s when he turned off the music,” said Taylor’s brother, Jerrall Taylor. “I saw them point guns at my brother’s face, and I knew what was going to happen.”
As the footage shows, about 40 seconds passed between the time the men were stopped and the second Cruz shot Taylor. In that time, Taylor reportedly attempted to pick up his pants and that’s when the officer believed he had a firearm and shot him.
“Nothing that Mr. Taylor did assisted in de-escalating the situation,” Gill said. “If anything, it escalated things.”
Gill says he is aware of the fact that his decision has sparked controversy among people who oppose the excessive use of police force. He says he understands that Taylor’s family can’t come to terms with the reason why a police officer should get away with shooting a person who wasn’t actually carrying a gun – but the DA said perceiving a threat is a valid excuse for a police officer to go forward with a shooting.
“Officer Cruz’s belief that Dillon Taylor was armed with a gun and intended to use it against the officers was reinforced by Dillon’s actions and the acts of others,” Gill said. “By the time Dillon drew his hands from his waistband, Officer Cruz’s belief that Dillon was presenting a weapon [and … would use the weapon against officers] was reasonable.”