POLICE

SLC releases body-cam video showing officers chasing, shooting autistic teen

Sep 21, 2020, 5:59 PM | Updated: 7:20 pm
teen with autism police shooting record police shootings slc...
FILE: Linden Cameron was shot 11 times by police responding to a call about a potentially violent mental health episode. The teen was unarmed. He has autism. Photo: Golda Barton

SALT LAKE CITY – The Salt Lake Police Department is releasing dramatic body-camera footage showing what led up to officers shooting 13-year-old Linden Cameron earlier this month. His mother and former SLCPD Chief Chris Burbank believe officers didn’t have a valid reason for firing their weapons. 

13-year-old boy shot by SLCPD 

A video that details only the final moments of the search and chase begins by showing an officer stepping from his police car at approximately 10:38 p.m. 

The audio begins about 40 seconds after the video begins. An officer is heard yelling “stop, get on the ground,” at a person who is seen with the help of an officer’s flashlight. The person, reportedly 13-year-old Linden Cameron, then turns and runs. An officer is heard yelling “knock it off,” and a chase ensues.

The chase happens in what looks to be an alley between houses in the area of 500 South and Navajo Street (1335 West) in Salt Lake City.

As the officer is chasing the individual, he yells to fellow officers, “coming back to you!”

Seconds later, the officer conducting the chase visibly slows down as the location changes from an ally to a neighborhood street where more officers begin yelling “get on the ground! Get on the ground now!”

The officer conducting the chase then says, “pull your hands out dude, pull your hands out.”

Seconds after that, a total of eight shots were fired and Cameron is seen lying on the ground. That is where the video ends.

The response of Cameron’s mother

Before the video was released to the public, the boy’s mother, Golda Barton was given a chance to see it and speak with Police Chief Mike Brown about what led to officers opening fire. Barton spoke exclusively to KSL TV, and said she wasn’t able to bring herself to see the video. She’s relying on her attorney to describe what they saw.

“I couldn’t bring myself to watch him [Cameron] fall,” said Barton.

Barton says officers expressed their sorrow over what happened but thinks the apology fell short.

“They just are saying that because… I don’t know why.  Really, it’s hollow words,” Barton said.

Meanwhile, her son, Linden Cameron, is still recovering.  She says he’s young and physically strong, but it’s still hard to see his injuries. “There are so many holes, dude.  There are so many holes”

Since the shooting, Barton says her family has been getting a lot of support from friends, neighbors, and total strangers.  She says her son didn’t have a weapon, and she feels officers could have done more before shooting. 

“He’s confused, a lot.  It’s confusing for him because he doesn’t understand why he’s there, or why he has to stay there,” Barton says.  “He just doesn’t understand a lot of what’s going on.”

The Salt Lake City Police Department posted the videos to their YouTube Channel.  (Warning: Graphic Content)

SLC leaders speak out 

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall says this particular shooting hit her especially hard since she also has a young teenage son.  She’s calling this shooting another tragedy in the city.

“I am profoundly heartbroken, and I am frustrated,” Mendenhall said in a news conference on Monday.

The mayor renewed the city’s pledge to release the body-camera footage of each officer-involved shooting within ten business days, calling it the “beginning of an evolution” in transparency.

“This is an effort for us to remove unnecessary obstacles and hurdles to the public as they seek out the information,” she says.

Police Chief Mike Brown says the community must find a better way to help people with mental health issues.  He says his officers are called too frequently to help in situations that aren’t criminal in nature.

 “We’re facing a mental health crisis in this country, with a void of resources for those in crisis,” Brown says.  “Make no mistake, this is a crisis.”

RELATED LINKS

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

Family seeks answers after 13-year-old shot by police

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SLC releases body-cam video showing officers chasing, shooting autistic teen