Dillon Taylor, 20, was shot dead by police in Salt Lake City, Utah, Monday night after he failed to respond to police commands — because he was listening to music through headphones. Taylor’s brother, who was with Taylor at the time of the police shooting, says that his brother was unarmed and was trying to do what police told him to do when they shot him twice in the chest.
Police in Salt Lake City have refused to disclose whether or not a weapon was found on or near Dillon Taylor, nor have they said what actions Taylor may have taken that led police to shoot and kill him outside a 7-11 convenience store at 2102 State Street in Salt Lake City Monday.
Police were responding to reports of a man brandishing a gun, and Taylor reportedly fit the description they were given. Police confronted him along with his brother Jerrail Pete Taylor, 22, and a cousin, Adam Thayne. While police say that the other two men cooperated with the officers who stopped them, Salt Lake police Sergeant Darin Sweeten said that Dillon Taylor appeared “visibly upset.”
Taylor was subject to an outstanding warrant for allegedly violating probation. His brother had served time on a robbery charge. But Sweeten said that the officers who confronted the three men were not aware of the warrant on Dillon Taylor, or that they even knew who he was at the time of the shooting.
Jerrail Taylor said that his younger brother simply became confused because he couldn’t hear what police were telling him to do, and that confusion led to his death.
“We’re walking out of the 7-11 with a drink, when the cops show up and start harassing us with guns,” the older Taylor brother said, adding that Dillon wasn’t aware of the cops until they encircled him with guns leveled.
“He couldn’t hear them, so he just kept walking. They had guns pointed at his face. That’s when he turned off the music. I saw them point guns at my brother’s face, and I knew what was going to happen,” Jerrail told the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper.
When officers instructed Dillon to lie on the ground, he attempted to comply, but the officers fired at him from close range before he had a chance, Jerrail Taylor said. “He got confused, he went to pull up his pants to get on the ground, and they shot him.”
Witnesses said that Taylor was seen reaching for his waistband, suggesting that the police thought that the act of Dillon Taylor adjusting his pants was actually an attempt to reach for a weapon.
But did Dillon Taylor have a gun or not?
“We are not ready to release any information about a weapon being involved or not being involved at this time,” said Sweeten.
Jerrail Taylor said that none of the three men were in possession of firearms. Adam Thayne said police claimed they mistook Dillon’s cell phone for a gun.
“They said they thought his phone was a gun is what they told my cousin but I don’t even think he brought his phone out,” Thayne said. “His hands were empty.”
Both parents of the Taylor brothers died five years ago and their aunt, Gina Thayne, took over the care of the then-teenagers.
“It’s been a roller coaster for the last five years with these kids,” she said. “It seems like every time they take two steps forward to try and straighten things up, they go three steps back.”
Dillon Taylor was engaged and his fiancé was three months pregnant with the couple’s first child.