SALT LAKE CITY – The family of a seriously injured 13-year-old boy with autism is suing the Salt Lake City Police Chief and one of the department’s officers in federal court after an officer-involved shooting.
Attorneys for the family argue that the boy was never a threat to officers or the community and that potentially deadly force should have never been used.
Mom called SLCPD for help
The shooting happened in early September after Golda Barton called Salt Lake City Police saying that her 13-year-old son, Linden Cameron, was having a mental breakdown. In the body-worn video, you can hear Barton asking police to find him so he could be taken to the hospital.
“I need him to go to the hospital. I cannot get him there on my own,” she said. “I can’t do this every night. I will end up, like, not being able to handle myself.”
Barton’s attorney, Nathan Morris told KSL, “They knew they were dealing with a young man who had a sensory disorder and that he was afraid of police and would run away.”
(Warning: video shows graphic images)
Conversation by SLCPD officers picked up on camera footage
The body-cam footage also picked up a conversation between two officers. The conversation revealed that one of them had doubts they should even approach Cameron if there was a potential psychiatric problem. The two officers seemed unclear about what their policies were.
“Honestly, we could call the sergeant and tell him the situation, because I’m not about to get into a shooting because he’s upset,” one officer said.
After he was shot, the videotape reveals Linden saying, “I don’t feel good,” and, “tell my mom I love her.”
Lingering injuries for the 13-year-old child
Linden was hit with bullets 11 times, and even though the injuries weren’t fatal, Morris says he will never fully recover.
“His left arm is immobile. He has bullets still in his body and there are resulting internal wounds,” Morris said.
The lawsuit claims officers made many mistakes before they drew their weapons. Morris said police didn’t assess the situation the way they were supposed to. He says they didn’t call for guidance from their superiors and that they used threatening language and actions instead of de-escalating the problem.
“We take a step back and look at all of the things and failures that led up to that shooting, and that is particularly concerning,” Morris said.
Morris hasn’t determined the exact dollar figure to ask for, but it could reach into the tens of millions. He said the police department desperately needs to reform its use of force policies.
The Salt Lake City Police Department issued a statement saying they’re not allowed to speak about pending litigation. The Salt Lake County DA’s office is still investigating to determine if criminal charges are warranted.
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