A grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer who killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, announced this week, could spark renewed interest in a case in Utah involving a young, unarmed man killed by a police officer outside a 7-Eleven.
The case of 20-year-old Dillon Taylor had lingered in the public mind for months but did not rise to the level of the attention devoted to the case in Ferguson, which saw a confluence of racial tension, national media interest and public statements on the matter from President Obama and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.
But Taylor’s name has surfaced on social media since the announcement of the decision in the Ferguson case. Described as white and Hispanic, Taylor was shot by a non-white officer Aug. 11. That stands in contrast to the case in Ferguson where police officer Darren Wilson, who is white, shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, who is black, two days earlier.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sam Gill said in late September that though Taylor was not armed when Officer Bron Cruz shot and killed him on Aug. 11, the officer was justified in the shooting.
“Officer Cruz’s belief that Dillon Taylor was armed with a gun and intended to use it against the officers was reinforced by Dillon’s actions and the acts of others,” Mr. Gill wrote in a letter to Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. “By the time Dillon drew his hands from his waistband, Officer Cruz’s belief that Dillon was presenting a weapon [and … would use the weapon against officers] was reasonable.”
Officers were responding to a report of a man waving a gun around when they confronted Taylor, his brother and his cousin leaving a 7-Eleven.
His brother Jerrail Taylor told the Salt Lake Tribune that Dillon was wearing headphones and didn’t hear police until they surrounded him. Jerrail Taylor also said his brother may have been pulling up his pants before responding to a command to lie down on the ground when he was shot.
Dillon Taylor had been wanted on a $25,000 bench warrant “for a probation violation in connection with felony robbery and obstructing justice convictions,” according to the Tribune.