Police say the cop was responding to reports of a “suspicious man” going door-to-door, offering to shovel snow from people’s driveways, even though the snow had already been melted.
The video from the body cam shows the cop walk up to a man in somebody’s front porch and begin questioning him about his motives. The man becomes defensive and tells him, “I’m just doing my business.”
The cop asks for his name, but the man refuses to provide it. The cop then threatens him with arrest, telling him he is required by law to provide his name if he is under investigation.
Utah law states the following:
77-7-15. Authority of peace officer to stop and question suspect — Grounds. A peace officer may stop any person in a public place when he has a reasonable suspicion to believe he has committed or is in the act of committing or is attempting to commit a public offense and may demand his name, address and an explanation of his actions.
Unless going door-to-door looking for work is illegal in Utah, then it appears that the man was under no requirement to provide identification. Nevertheless, the man became angry and began yelling at the cop before lifting the shovel and swinging it at him.
The video cuts out before the shooting, most likely edited by police, who released it to the media. But no matter where you stand on this shooting, it shows the importance of body cams as they put to rest the usual speculation that normally arises from these incidents.
UPDATE: Police say the video cuts out because the camera stopped recording after being stuck by the shovel. Also, the man with the shovel has been identified as James Dudley Barker, who was known to be a peaceful man.
According to KSL:
Barker is seen stepping back from the officer and cries, “You can’t get in my face, man!” He then swings the snow shovel he is holding.
The video shows the sky as the officer presumably tumbles from the porch. The footage ends a second later as the blue shovel lands a second blow, breaking the camera.
The moment that followed seconds later, when Barker was shot and killed by the unidentified officer, was not recorded.
The officer was hit by the shovel “several” times, police said, and suffered fractured bones in an arm and foot.
UPDATE II: A witness describes the incident.
Richard Grow, who lives in the northwest corner of the Avenues, witnessed the final moments of the struggle between the officer and Barker.
Grow, 66, was driving south on I Street when, as he approached 2nd Avenue, he saw the two men leap off a front porch, one after the other. He said he is not sure if the officer was the first one off the porch or not; he initially thought they were two roommates fighting, and only later realized that one was a policeman.
By the time Grow pulled up, stopping his car about 40 feet from the fight, the two men were wrestling on the ground in front of the house.
“They wrestled on the ground for 10 to 15 seconds,” Grow said. Then he saw the officer “reach around his side and pull out his gun and hold it up to the guy’s chest and, bam, bam, bam … Point blank against this man’s chest.”
Grow got out and asked the officer, who Grow thought looked haggard, if he needed any help.
“He just said ‘get out of here,’ ” Grow said. He obeyed, but filled out a statement at police headquarters a few hours later.
During questioning, one thing the police kept asking him was if he could remember whether the officer or Barker was the first one off the porch. Grow can’t.
“I did not know that. I wish I could tell them that,” he said.
Grow also never saw a shovel, but added that anything involving the implement may have happened beforehand.