Family Criticizes DA After Palacios Shooting Ruled Justified

Jul 9, 2020, 9:38 PM | Updated: 11:56 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Attorneys for Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal’s family criticized Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill’s decision that officers were justified in using deadly force when they shot and killed Palacios-Carbajal in May.

The attorneys said Gill ignored the use of force, and that merits investigation.

“You can’t imagine what it’s like to have a son be killed,” said Lucila Carbajal, Palacios-Carbajal’s mother. “I can’t sleep and I feel an immense silence in my home.”

On Thursday, Gill released the decision, which said the officer’s actions were justified in the May 23 shooting death.

The attorneys for the Palacios family criticized those findings.

Family of Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal hold press conference

LIVE: The family of Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal, who died in an officer-involved shooting in May, is holding a press conference following DA Sim Gill's announcement that officers' use of deadly force was justified.

Posted by KSL 5 TV on Thursday, July 9, 2020

“Contrary to Mr. Gill’s public statement today, the language of Utah’s deadly force law expressly authorizes the DA to prosecute the officers who shot Bernardo,” attorney Nathan Morris said. “Mr. Gill chose to ignore that language and took upon himself the decision to exonerate the officers at the expense of a fair judicial process, rather than permitting a jury of Bernardo’s peers to decide the fate of the officers.  He did so by speculating on multiple key questions and giving every benefit of the doubt to the officers.”

“Frankly, the press conference this morning (Thursday) sounded more like a defense criminal argument than it did a district attorney looking to protect the citizens of Salt Lake and surrounding areas,” added attorney Brian Webber.

DA Sim Gill reveals findings in officer-involved shooting of Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal

LIVE: DA Sim Gill walks through findings of officer-involved shooting that led to the death of Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal

Posted by KSL 5 TV on Thursday, July 9, 2020

Morris and Webber argued the 34 rounds fired by officers during the shooting showed an unnecessary and excessive use of force. They argued officers had many opportunities to use non-lethal force, like a taser.

“The use of lawful force is only justified when there is a threat and in this instance, that threat was removed effectively after 4-6 bullets when he fell on the ground,” Morris said.

They said Palacios-Carbajal was afraid and looking to get away from the situation and showed no intention of shooting the officers.

According to Gill’s office, body camera and surveillance footage showed Palacios-Carbajal tripped, dropped the gun and picked it up three times before officers opened fire.

“Mr. Gill also addressed the fact that his gun was picked up and we don’t want to shy away from that fact,” Morris said. “Our retort to that is he had every opportunity to use deadly force, meaning Mr. Bernardo, to turn his gun but he chose not to, he continued to run away. His clear intention that day was to run away.”

Webber added, “Should he have been running? No. You know what you do to a suspect who runs? You apprehend them, you bring them in, you book them, you charge them, they go to trial, you don’t kill them, you don’t shoot him in the back.”

Palacios-Carbajal’s family said they will continue advocating for peaceful protests in light of Gill’s decision.

“I’m going to try to be strong for him, because I know that is what he would want,” Freddie Palacios, Palacios-Carbajal’s brother said.

“If it was your brother, would you give up?” asked Karina Palacios, Palacios-Carbajal’s sister.

The attorneys said they are exploring other options, such as civil action against the city and police department, as well as legislation that would require better training for officers.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Morris said, “We are grateful to the numerous members of our community who have supported our family through this painful ordeal and who have called for justice and accountability.  We ask them to continue to peacefully protest the injustices we heard announced by the DA today.  As a family, we will not stop in our pursuit of justice for Bernardo through all means that are available to us.  We call on the leaders in the Salt Lake City Police Department and other local authorities to continue their internal investigation and to hold these officers accountable.”

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Family Criticizes DA After Palacios Shooting Ruled Justified