Angry and grieving, family members of Utahns killed by police in recent years gathered Saturday in downtown Salt Lake City to denounce a law-enforcement culture that they believe has become authoritarian and overly militarized.
Roughly 120 people attended the protest outside the Matheson Courthouse, including Melissa Kennedy, the mother of Danielle Willard, who was shot and killed in 2012 by a West Valley City officer who has since been charged with manslaughter.
— Classless Skip (@MenaceSocietyUT) October 4, 2014
That is the anomaly. Willard’s death is the only one prosecutors have found to be not justified since 2010. In that time, a Salt Lake Tribune review has identified 43 people fatally shot by police.
“It is ‘do what they tell you to do or die,’ ” Kennedy said. “The slightest idea you might have a gun, or might have a knife, and they will shoot.”
Former West Valley City narcotics Detective Shaun Cowley, who has proclaimed his innocence and is fighting to get his job back, has been charged with second-degree felony manslaughter in the shooting.
Speakers called for the removal of military-grade weapons and gear from police. They also want to expand the use of body cameras worn by officers and mandate that civilian boards review police shootings and potential misconduct.
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