While national news media continue to focus on race in Ferguson, Missouri, where a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, they apparently don’t think a similar case in Utah with the races possibly reversed is that newsworthy.
Police in Salt Lake City are continuing their probe into an Aug. 11 shooting outside a 7-Eleven convenience store, when a police officer, whom local media are referring to as “not white,” shot and killed 20-year-old Dillon Taylor, who was unarmed at the time, according to his supporters.
Police Chief Chris Burbank said the entire incident was captured on the body camera of the officer who shot Taylor.
“You will see on camera … the actions of everyone involved, including up to the point where our officer utilizes deadly force and his response thereafter,” Burbank told reporters.
He said the video, along with the officer’s identity, will be released at the “appropriate” time, adding it could be days, weeks or months.
Watch KUTV’s dramatic video of the shooting:
“It would be wholly inappropriate to take the most vital piece of evidence that we have and put it out to the public prior to the officer having some due process,” he said.
The chief indicated he has personally viewed the footage, but would not comment on whether he believed the shooting was justified.
“I do not send officers out to use deadly force. That’s never our intention. In fact, our policy specifically says that is the last resort,” he said. “The officer in this circumstance did not set out to use deadly force. We have an unfortunate incident where Dillon Taylor lost his life.”
Burbank also refused to say whether Taylor had a gun, but the victim’s family and friends maintain he was unarmed.
“It didn’t make sense to me when I first heard everything, and they tried to say he had a gun,” Taylor’s friend, Aaron Swanenberg, told the Salt Lake Tribune. “I knew Dillon. He never packed a gun.”
Police said officers were responding to a report of a man “waving a gun around.”
When officers arrived, they found three men leaving the convenience store, with one, later identified as Taylor, reportedly matching the description of the person reported in a 9-1-1 call.
Witnesses say Taylor was wearing headphones at the time and may have been trying to pull his pants up when he was gunned down.
At the time of his shooting, court documents show Taylor had a $25,000 bench warrant for a probation violation in connection with felony robbery and obstructing justice convictions.
But Marissa Martinez, whose sister used to date Taylor, told the Salt Lake Tribune that Taylor had turned over a new leaf.
“He was trying to do better for himself. And this is what happens to him?” Martinez said. “It was really heartbreaking.”
Regarding the race of the officer, Utah’s Deseret News reported the police chief “saying the officer is not white.” The Salt Lake Tribune noted, “the officer involved was not white.”
The Taylor case was examined Wednesday by talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh, who said, “Note the similarities to the Michael Brown story [in Missouri], except in this case there’s no evidence the victim actually committed a crime.”
He noted Taylor “didn’t resist. He didn’t hit the cop. He didn’t try to flee and yet he was shot dead.”
He also pointed out how most news accounts did not specify the race of the police officer who killed Taylor.
“They are referring to the officer as ‘other-than-white,’ which reminds me of George Zimmerman becoming only the second-known white Hispanic, a title given by the New York Times.”
“They can’t wait to mention the racial aspects in St. Louis,” Limbaugh continued. “They don’t talk about the racial aspects in [the shootings in] Chicago, and there aren’t any racial aspects here in Salt Lake City.”
“There’s a mindset out there, and the way it works in situations like this [is] only people of color can be victims. A white person can never be a victim. It just can’t happen. That’s not permitted, that’s not allowed because it isn’t the case. The whites are the oppressors. They’re the majority. In the liberal worldview, every majority is an oppressor, whether they’re white or whatever. They’re all oppressors. The minority is always the victims, and the victims are with whom we should always sympathize, no matter what. And the victims are permitted to do anything precisely because they’re a minority, and I’m talking about in numbers, not skin color. They’re outnumbered. The evil majority does horrible things to the minority. And so the minorities, be it skin color or numbers … [are] always victims. And so anything they do is justified and we must try to understand the rage.
“But in the current climate in the United States, a black person can never be the oppressor and a white can never be the victim. And that’s how you have a corrupt or perverted news business in Salt Lake City, refusing to identify a black cop who may have shot an innocent person. That destroys the whole picture we’ve been creating here for centuries. That could totally destroy the image that we’ve been trying to concoct. Oh man that could blow it sky high; that’s just not supposed to happen. And so they come up with these things to hide it or to not reference it at all.”
Taylor’s aunt, Gina Thayne, told the Deseret News that police know they “killed an innocent kid.”
“If in fact they actually produce a tape, it will show exactly what happened,” Thayne said. “It will come out eventually. It will never bring Dillon back, though.”