By Brett Gillin
Another round of police protests, this time in Salt Lake City Utah, decrying that police could have done more to prevent a man’s death after he was fatally shot by a police officer. This time, however, there is vivid evidence of the altercation between the man and as-yet unidentified officer. The footage shows the man clearly getting aggressive toward the officer before violently swinging his shovel and making contact.
According to KSL.com, police released the officer’s body-cam footage on Friday. In that footage, you can see the officer arriving at the scene and questioning James Dudley Barker. When the officer lets Barker know that he has received several calls about a suspicious man in the area matching Barker’s description, Barker tells him he’s trying to drum up some business for his snow-shoveling job.
The officer tells Barker that because there is no snow on the driveways in the area, and the weather is warming up, his presence in the neighborhood is causing concern among the residents. Barker tries to explain that he’s trying to secure future business, but the officer counters that witnesses have another story.
Barker also refuses to cooperate with the officer when he asks for his name. The officer calmly states that it is the law to give up his name when there is an ongoing investigation, but Barker continues to refuse. The officer asks if he has a license, which Barker confirms, but he still refuses to give his name to the officer.
Things begin to get tense after Barker begins screaming, “I’m trying to make a living. I’m doing my business.” The officer calls for backup before trying to calm Barker down. The body cam footage seems to show the officer reaching out toward Barker, who then becomes extremely agitated.
“You can’t get in my face, man!” Barker screamed. Then, he made what would turn out to be a fatal mistake. Barker turns, pulls back his snow shovel, and swings it at the officer. The shovel hits the officer with such force as to send him tumbling off the front porch. As the body cam is facing the sky, Barker lands another blow with the shovel, this one breaking the body cam.
Seconds later, the officer shot and killed Barker. The officer suffered several broken bones in the altercation.
“Officers have a job to do, and frankly the amount of victim blaming on the officer is ridiculous and doesn’t leave much air in the room for a rational discussion,” Ian Adams, spokesman for the Utah Fraternal Order of Police told reporters with KSL. “That officer did nothing to provoke such an aggravated assault.”
Despite the footage clearly showing the aggressive actions Barker took and the violence he committed against a police officer, protests have popped up around Utah. The protestors claim that the officer should have walked away or tried something different. While the officer has been put on administrative leave pending the conclusion of an investigation, it does not seem he will face discipline for the shooting thanks to the body cam footage.