While we have all spent the last week in mourning for the vicious shooting in Las Vegas that forever changed the lives of thousands of people, we cannot afford to overlook what happened to Patrick Harmon. He was gunned down by a police officer on August 13, 2017 and the DA just deemed the police shooting”justified.”
At about 10:20 p.m. in the evening, Harmon was gunned down in cold blood on S. State Street. Harmon was identified, before he was shot, as a 50-year-old man riding a bicycle without a tail light after dark. A police officer had stopped Harmon for the missing tail light and discovered that there was an outstanding felony warrant for him.
The details get “fuzzy” at that point. The police filed conflicting reports and no one seems to really “know” what happened next. Sgt. Brandon Shearer gave the official statements that night.
Two other officers arrived at the scene, making three officers and one 50-year-old “black male suspect.” Shearer reported that Harmon (who he claims hasn’t been identified yet) “produced a weapon.” He continues, explaining that “De-escalation tactics were used in an effort to get the suspect to drop the weapon.” At some point, one of the officers, in fear for his life, fired his weapon, hitting Harmon with at least one shot.
Harmon lay on the ground, critically injured, crying, as a second officer handcuffed him (this is a standard procedure to ensure the safety of officers). The responding officers performed first aid, then transported him to a hospital where he was later declared dead. The officers claimed they did not know anything about the suspect before the shooting occurred.
Following the shooting, Police Chief Mike Brown placed one officer on paid administrative leave, stating Monday afternoon that the officer in question had been employed by the department for “a few years.” Brown emphasized the fact that only one of the officers discharged a weapon.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune:
All three officers were equipped with body cameras and had activated them at the time, police confirmed. Brown said the footage is under review by Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, and once Gill renders a decision, the video would be released to the public.
The District Attorney’s report was issued on Wednesday, based on what he saw in the body cam footage from the officers. From viewing the footage, the Salt Lake Tribune reports:
In the video, the officer again asks Harmon for the spelling of his last name. The district attorney’s report said Harmon gave “a couple of different names.” Body camera footage shows Harmon quietly spelling his name and the officer asking for clarification multiple times.
Before the officer returned to his squad car, Harmon told the officer he may find a warrant related to a felony charge.
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The officer called for back up. The second two officers responded. The warrant information came back, and according to the report, Harmon was wanted for aggravated assault. The officers all stated that Harmon, while they were attempting to handcuff him, “bolted and ran,” then “turned quickly” back toward them. From the DA’s report, as reported by the Salt Lake Tribune:
The officer who originally contacted Harmon drew his stun gun, and another, Officer Clinton Fox, drew his gun. All three officers reported hearing Harmon threaten to cut them. They saw him reach toward his right pants pocket and that he had something in his hand, the report said.
Fox later told investigators he saw a knife in Harmon’s hand with the blade exposed. He believed another officer was dangerously close to Harmon, he said.
In the footage, Fox shouts, “I‘ll f—— shoot you!” before firing three rounds at Harmon. Simultaneously, the other officer fires his stun gun.
Fox felt “terrified by how close Mr. Harmon was to the officers,” he told investigators. “Fox said that in ten years of law enforcement and two military deployments, it was the scariest situation he had ever been in,” according to the report.
That was from the DA report, and why DA Gill decided that the shooting had been justified.
I watched the body camera footage below. It doesn’t match what was contained in the officer statements or the DA report. What I saw in that body cam footage was a cop shoot a man in cold blood, as he ran away CRYING in fear. The footage is blurry as Harmon fled, so Harmon COULD have reached into a back pocket for a weapon, but he never did turn back toward the officers. He was running and facing away from Officer Fox when the shots rang out. The sound of Fox shouting “I‘ll f—— shoot you!” is drowned out by the sound of the three shots that were fired at Harmon.
There was no warning — Fox fired AS he was shouting the so-called warning.
Please don’t forget Patrick Harmon while you mourn the tremendous loss of life our country has suffered this week. Do not allow this incident to be brushed aside by a DA report which seems to be based on different footage than the actual footage that was made public yesterday.
… court records show that a $10,000 felony warrant was issued in April after Harmon failed to show up for sentencing in 3rd District Court.
Patrick Harmon did not need to die. He was NOT threatening those three officers. He was running away from them, crying.
Note from the writer: I spent 11 years in law enforcement. I was a Patrol Officer, an Investigator, and a Field Training Officer. I wrote Standard Operating Procedures and Training Guidelines for two departments. I supervised and facilitated training of junior officers. None of the training I ever received or conducted included shooting suspects in the back as they were fleeing. There was no threat. There was a taser already pointed at the suspect. There was no reason for that officer to even pull his firearm out of the holster. This behavior by a law enforcement officer is appalling to me. And the fact that too many of these killings take place every day in this country means we need a major overhaul of our law enforcement divisions. The motto of every department in this country used to be “To Serve and Protect.” That used to mean something. If a person is afraid of another person simply because of the color of their skin — or their size, or their state of mind, or because they are running away — that frightened little ball-less bastard should NOT be a police officer.