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A mother has refused a $900,000 payout from police who shot dead her black son – because it would have required her to not speak publicly about the incident.
Susan Hunt – the mom of Darrien Hunt, 22, who was shot by two Saratoga Springs officers last September – said she will not accept the settlement with the city and police.
It was offered in response to her wrongful death lawsuit that she filed in January.
Speaking at a gathering with family and well-wishers on the one-year anniversary of her son’s death, she said: ‘To me, it was a gag order – “Here’s hush money, don’t ever say Darrien’s name again.”
‘I hope there will be a legacy instead of a hush order,’ she told KSL.com.
Susan Hunt vowed that she will not accept a settlement with police that does not ‘explicitly’ clear her son of wrongdoing in the incident.
On September 10, 2014, Darrien Hunt was shot dead by Cpl. Matt Schauerhamer and Officer Nicholas Judson after he was spotted with a sword at a bustling shopping mall in Saratoga Springs, Utah.
The lawsuit says Darrien Hunt was not a threat, and two officers fatally shot him after he tripped up while running away.
He was carrying the sword as part of a Japanese anime costume, according to his family.
They also claim that Darrien, who is black, was treated differently because of his race. The two officers were white.
Autopsy results revealed that Hunt suffered six gunshots wounds – and at least four entered his body from behind.
In February, an attorney for the city said he was not shot because of his skin color but because of his reckless actions.
County prosecutors ruled last year that the shooting was legally justified, saying the officers feared for their lives and the lives of others.
Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman said investigators found no evidence that race or ethnicity played a role in the shooting.
Susan Hunt told KSL: ‘I feel sadly that the majority of [Saratoga Springs residents] would prefer that I just shut up and go away. But the truth is Darrien didn’t swing the sword at the officers.’
The fatal encounter was triggered after someone called in a report of a suspicious person with a sword in Saratoga Springs.
Schauerhamer and Judson spotted Hunt and began having a conversation with him, Buhman said.
Hunt apparently told them he wanted a ride to a nearby city – but when they asked him to give up his sword, he refused and his demeanor changed.
He then swung the 3ft metal sword at them, Buhman claimed.
At last Thursday’s gathering, Hunt’s brother, 21-year-old Kerahn ‘KJ’ Hunt, retraced his brother’s last steps to commemorate his final moments.
KJ was dressed in a costume similar to his brother and carried a katana sword as he walked around the shopping area where Darrien was shot dead.
His mother said police approached KJ Hunt after receiving complaints, but she reminded them that it is an ‘open carry state’.
This refers to the legal right to ‘openly carry’ a gun in public.
A federal investigation of the incident is still pending however no updates have been released.
‘My biggest concern,’ Susan told the Salt Lake Tribune, ‘is for the truth to be told.’