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Ex-police chief speaks out on shooting of 13-year-old Linden Cameron

Sep 21, 2020, 5:13 AM
Cameron shooting...
FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2020 file photo, Salt Lake City police Chief Mike Brown speaks as Mayor Erin Mendenhall listens during a news conference on Aug. 3, 2020, in Salt Lake City. The Salt Lake City Police Department vowed Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, to cooperate with multiple investigations of the shooting of a 13-year-old autistic boy by officers in the Salt Lake City area. The Salt Lake City Police Department said the officers were called to a home in Glendale, Utah, Friday night, Sept. 4 with a report of a boy who had threatened people with a weapon. The boy reportedly ran and was shot by an officer after being pursued by police. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY— The body cam footage of the shooting of 13-year-old autistic Linden Cameron is expected to be released Monday. Without having seeing the footage, a former Salt Lake City Chief of police said he can’t understand how guns were drawn in the first place. 

His mother said Cameron was having some kind of mental health crisis when she called police to help calm the child down.  Police say officers were informed the boy made threats to some people with a weapon.  Then, police shot him multiple times after they say the boy ran.  

The Salt Lake City Police Department hasn’t released any more details.  Cameron is currently recovering from shoulder, ankle, bladder and intestinal injuries in the hospital.

“THIS WAS A CHILD”

“This is not an adult in mental health crisis. This is a 13 year old,” said former Chief Chris Burbank. “I don’t know why you get to the point where you pull your gun out of the holster in this circumstance.” 

Burbank said mental health counselors and therapists deal with this kind of situation every day.  He noted that even when they are struck they never have to use “deadly force.”

Burbank was chief of the SLCPD for nine years until 2015.  He said he oversaw much of the initial Crisis Intervention Training when he was in charge.

He said there is a training video that he developed that specifically deals with “Invisible Illnesses” like this. 

OTHER OPTIONS

“I’m really struggling to understand why deadly force was used, when there are so many other options available to police today,” Burbank said.  “There is hands-on physical, there are tasers, there is pepper spray, there are batons. What was it that caused the need for a physical confrontation?  The threat to the community was minimal, if at all.”

Burbank said there is only one reason that would justify use of deadly force against the boy.  “If (Cameron) had a gun and pointed it at a police officer.  That is the only (rational) explanation in my mind.”

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Ex-police chief speaks out on shooting of 13-year-old Linden Cameron