Surveillance footage released Thursday shows Salt Lake City, Utah police officers fatally shooting a man as he fled.
Prosecutors said the officers were legally justified in shooting Patrick Harmon after an arrest gone awry. Officers pulled Harmon over the night of Aug. 13 for riding a bicycle without a tail light, according to the Guardian.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, officers said Harmon gave them “different names,” leaving them unable to find him in a police database. He also warned an officer that he may find a warrant for his arrest.
The officer then called for backup after he found that Harmon indeed had a felony warrant for aggravated assault.
He fled as police tried to arrest him, according newly released bodycam footage. The footage also showed officer Clinton Fox shouting “I’ll f------ shoot you!” before firing three shots, according to the Guardian. Another officer fired a stun gun at the same time.
Warning: Some viewers may find following footage to be disturbing.
Officers claimed Harmon pulled a knife on them and threatened to cut the officers, according to the Guardian, giving them reason to fear for their lives. Officers then cuffed Harmon as he laid on the ground, moaning in pain. They applied first aid to him on the scene, but he was later pronounced dead. Investigators also took a photo of the alleged knife used in the incident.
At the time, Fox said the encounter left him “terrified by how close Mr. Harmon was to the officers.”
“Fox said that in ten years of law enforcement and two military deployments, it was the scariest situation he had ever been in,” according to the police records obtained by the Tribune.
Harmon’s family and activists disputed the officer’s accounts.
“They just murdered him flat out,” Alisha Shaw, Harmon’s niece, told the Guardian after watching the footage. “They are lying. There is no way they were threatened by anything. He was only trying to get away.”
“That officer 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?”
Mike Brown, the police chief, said he believes the officers acted properly and that he trusts “the process and support the decision” of the attorneys.
“I believe our officers have the training, judgment and ability to make split-second decisions in dynamic situations,” Brown said in a statement to the Tribune.
So far this year, Police officers have killed 748 people, according to a Washington Post database.