SALT LAKE CITY – A Utah prosecutor asked the FBI on Tuesday to investigate a police shooting that left a black man dead when he ran from officers who stopped him after he rode his bike across six lanes of traffic and they noticed he didn’t have a required rear light.
The request to the FBI came after an outcry from the family of Patrick Harmon and anti-police brutality groups about a decision last week not to file criminal charges.
Harmon’s sister Antoinette Harmon said she appreciated the request for the FBI investigation but also wants Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill and Salt Lake City police Officer Clinton Fox removed from their posts. Fox shot Patrick Harmon.
“It’s not enough,” she said. “We are going to get justice for his death.”
Dramatic body camera video of the Aug. 13 shooting appears to show Patrick Harmon, 50, being shot from behind after Fox, who is white, yelled, “I’ll (expletive) shoot you.”
Gill found that slowed-down video indicates that Harmon turned toward officers and that he was struck on the side of his body. Fox told investigators he was terrified after Harmon threatened him with a knife.
A knife isn’t discernable in the video, but investigators say they found one at the scene.
Harmon was stopped after a Salt Lake City officer saw him ride his bicycle across a major downtown street and noticed that he didn’t have the rear light.
Police say they started to arrest him on outstanding warrants when he broke into the run.
The shooting came amid an intense debate throughout the United States about race and policing following fatal shootings of black men.
High-profile cases in Utah have included 22-year-old Darrien Hunt, who was killed while holding a samurai sword in 2014, and Abdi Mohamed, a teenager who was wounded after police said he refused to drop a broom stick in a 2016 fight.
Lex Scott, an organizer with Black Lives Matter in Utah, said she’s happy the FBI has been asked to review the case but says the decision doesn’t change her opinion that Gill erred in ruling the shooting was justified.
“This is him trying to put it on the FBI and try to take some responsibility off himself because he’s getting so much heat,” Scott said. “We were going to ask the FBI to investigate it.”
Salt Lake City police Chief Mike Brown said in a statement that he believes the FBI will come to the same conclusion as Gill.
“I stand behind Officer Fox. I know he has the training, judgment and ability to make split-second decisions in dynamic situations,” Brown said.
The Salt Lake Police Association didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.
Scott said she didn’t see a knife in the video and added that even if Harmon had a knife, it wouldn’t justify the fatal shooting.
“Anyone with eyes can see that was a murder,” Scott said. “We are over three years into the Black Lives Matter movement and police officers in this country can still shoot black men on film and walk away and keep their jobs and not be charged with a crime.”
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