Police in Utah shot and killed a Black man who had raised his left hand and quickly pulled out his other hand as they confronted him earlier this month and it was all caught on video, Salt Lake Tribune reports.
Elijah James Smith, 20, had entered a home in West Valley City, UT when officers, searching for a suspected cell phone thief, entered the house.
Body camera footage shows a 13-year old boy opening the door and letting officers know that Smith had broken into their home and was in the garage.
“There’s some, some guy here,” the child is heard telling police on video.
West Valley City police approached the garage and saw Smith standing next to a car where they repeatedly shouted at him to put up his hands.
Smith can be seen lifting his left hand, while officers told him to get his other hand out of his pocket. As Smith moved his right elbow, officers fired three times striking him once and killing him.
Officers found a screwdriver next to Smith’s body and they believe it was in his pocket.
Activists have called Smith’s death a “murder” and want the police department to fire the officer involved in the fatal shooting, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
The 13-year old boy, who was in the house with a 9 and 10-year-old, told police that Smith knocked on the door and “barged in” when he opened it.
Officers were looking for a man that matched Smith’s description after reports that someone stole a cell phone.
Smith’s family and friends are not in agreement with how the officer’s viewed their encounter with Smith.
“Once again, it’s clear that police will see whatever they want to see in order to justify violence against people of color,” Dave Newlin, of Utahns Against Police Brutality told the Tribune.
“I see a terrified young man with his hand in the air, desperately and clearly trying to put up his other hand exactly as police have demanded. I see someone who is trapped after running for his life, who knows that at any moment, the violent racism of Utah’s police could take his life, as indeed it does,” Newlin continued.
The officer who killed Smith is on administrative leave, pending an investigation, while the other two officers are still on duty.
Warning: Graphic video of the incident below.
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.