New video of the shooting death of James Barker has emerged, showing what appears to the a Salt Lake City police officer shooting the unarmed and handcuffed man in the back.
The 42-year-old Barker was shot on January 8, 2015, after allegedly getting into an altercation with officer Matthew Taylor. The shooting was initially ruled justified by the district attorney’s office, but new video of James Barker’s death has cast serious doubt on that.
Former Davis County Sheriff William “Bud” Lawrence said new video shows Barker already handcuffed and subdued when Taylor fired.
“[Barker] is laying on the ground, he’s already on the ground incapacitated,” Lawrence said (via Fox 13 in Salt Lake City).
— Sandra Yi (@KSL_SandraYi) January 9, 2016
Supporters say a new video, released today, will turn the story of James Barker’s death upside down. pic.twitter.com/apo36KPgWp
— Brianna Bodily (@BriannaBodily) January 9, 2016
“You hear the sounds of the shots, the three gun shots,” he said. “… that shot seems muffled, the second shot, the third shot: there’s three shots fired. Everyone testified there’s three shots fired.”
Lawrence is now pushing for the district attorney’s office to re-open the case. Officer Matthew Taylor has already been placed on leave, and District Attorney Sim Gill said his office is taking a look to see whether the the new video “changes or alters our conclusion.”
“Our job and our commitment has always been [to be] as thorough and open and transparent as we can,” Gill told the Tribune this week. “So we are going to do our due diligence to re-examine what we have.”
As the Tribune described, the video appears to show James Barker laying face down on the pavement when Taylor fired.
“Frame by frame, Lawrence described the scene depicted on the video near the sidewalk on 2nd Avenue. The eave of an adjoining house blocks the porch from view so that the scuffle and the events before the shooting cannot be seen. But each enhanced frame, Lawrence said, shows Barker facedown near the sidewalk. The officer kneels down over him, and three sounds — allegedly gunshots — are heard. The officer then stands up and walks a short distance away.”
But others are defending Matthew Taylor. The Salt Lake Police Association released a statement saying that the review should come to the same conclusion as last year, and referred to the idea that Taylor executed Barker as a “conspiracy theory.”
“We have full confidence the supplemental investigation will confirm the original justified ruling. It is our belief Officer Taylor did not shoot James Barker while he was handcuffed,” the statement reads. “We appreciate any evidence anyone can bring forward, however, to speculate regarding a conspiracy theory is both irresponsible and unproductive.”
The James Barker shooting video comes on the heels of a number of other questionable killing by police, leading to a nationwide movement for more accountability. In many cases, police have escaped charges despite shootings that appear unjustified. That was the case in Cleveland, where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot by police when the boy was walking in the park with a toy gun. A grand jury ultimately decided not to pursue charges, and critics accused prosecutors of purposely sinking the case to avoid charging the officer.
Barker’s killing has also gained nationwide attention, with video of the shooting spreading around the internet this weekend and gaining coverage from a number of large media outlets.
Video of the fatal shooting of James Barker can be seen here, but be warned that it contains graphic images that can be disturbing to some viewers.
[Image via Twitter/ The Huffington Post]