Mother of black man slain by Utah police rejects $900K settlement -media

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 11, 2015 8:17 PM

By Peg McEntee

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - A Utah woman whose black son was shot in the back by police and killed while carrying a sword last year has rejected a $900,000 offer to settle her federal lawsuit against the city and two of its officers, according to the local Deseret News newspaper.

On Thursday, the anniversary of Darrien Hunt's 2014 killing, Susan Hunt said she wouldn't accept the money because the settlement would have stopped her from commenting about the case and did not clear her son of wrongdoing, the newspaper reported.

"To me it was a gag order — 'Here's some hush money, don't ever say Darrien's name again,'" Susan Hunt told a gathering of friends and family in Saratoga Springs, where the shooting occurred, according to the paper.

Officials with the city and police department could not be immediately reached on Friday to address Hunt's statements, but a city attorney declined to comment to the Deseret News.

The shooting of Darrien Hunt, 22, raised tensions in the mostly white community, some 30 miles south of Salt Lake City, coming as it did just a month after an unarmed black teenager was shot dead by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

The shootings were part of a spate of police killings of unarmed black men over the past year that have sparked waves of sometimes destructive protests over police violence, particularly against non-white people.

Hunt's mother, who is white, and father, who is black, filed a $2 million federal lawsuit in January, saying their son did not threaten the officers, and that neither officer warned Hunt before shooting him in the back with six bullets.

Susan Hunt has said her son was dressed in costume as a cartoon character and carrying a dull, role-playing "samurai" sword as he walked down the road on Sept. 10, 2014.

The officers, Matthew Schauerhamer and Nicholas Judson, confronted Hunt, believing he was a threat to customers of a nearby shopping center. They said Hunt swung the sword at them and they chased him when he fled.

Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman last year ruled that the officers were justified in using deadly force against Hunt because they believed he would harm others.

(Editing by Curtis Skinner and Sandra Maler)