Did You Lock The Door?
Did You Lock The Door?

Episode 20 · 2 years ago

Justice for Darrien Hunt


On the morning of September 10th, 2014, a passerby called 911 after seeing a man walking with what they did not know was a souvenir samurai sword. The man, Darrien Hunt, would lay dead just minutes later. Darrien's family have spent every moment since fighting for their son. Petition:


Hi and welcome back to did you lock the door the podcast? I'm your host, Peyton Reese, and back by popular demand, I have with me. It is I. I have returned. She wanted me back and I'm frankly surprised. I'm not, but anyway, William is back with me. Will for sure why I said William, and I'm sorry. Today we have a very special, very somber case. It was recommended to me by one of my lovely listeners, Michelle. I asked her if I could thank her for being such an avid listener by doing a case that is near and dear to her heart, and this is one that took place close to where she lives, one that means a lot to her. So I'm super honored that she trusted me to cover it and without further ado, we are going to get into the case of Darien Hunt So. Darien was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, in one thousand nine hundred and ninety two to parents Susan and Curtis Hunt. He was one of four children that the couple had together. Curtis actually served in the Marines and dairy and talked often about his plans to follow in his father's footsteps. Darien grew up loving anime and cosplay, a passion that would follow him into adulthood. He even had a sketch book in which she would draw a different Manga and anime characters that he loved. So will, if you want, to explain kind of what cosplay is. So this is my area of expertise. So cosplay and essence, for those who don't know what it is, is when you take a favorite character that you have, that either a you made up, as there are a lot of people who do that, or a character, most of the time pretty commonly found in some sort of pop culture reference, and you dress up as that character. So, for example, a very popular anime, Naruto, you dress up as as Naruto, or and Dragon Ball, you dress up as Goku West. People never really do it well. Well, and I did it well one time. Yes, we did. I was a killer CROC and we were actually suicide squad. I mean Nick also came in as Ashramash, the people, so suicide squad featuring Evil Dad. But yeah, we were Harley Quinn and killer CROC. I did his makeup and it turned out so much better than I thought it would. And I also met Goku that day. Oh, yeah, best of both worlds. Yes, it's very fun. HMM. That was before the movie suicide squad came out, so we didn't know yet how it would be. Like, well, what we were doing. Yeah, but but it was really fun. Yeah, was super cool. It was the first and only time really that I've ever done anything like that and it was a lot of fun. That was the second time, but it might the second time of look way better, though. So Darien and his family moved to Virginia, actually when Darien was still a little boy. However, following his high school graduation, Susan and Curtis would separate and Susan moved with her four kids back to Saratoga Springs, UTAH. Michelle, who is once again the lovely listener that recommended this case, said that she actually knew the family through Church and through various neighborhood parties, which is kind of cool. On September ten, two thousand and fourteen, Darien would go out for a morning walk dressed in black pants and then oversized red shirt which was unbuttoned. He was just as an anime character of his, one of his favorites Mougan from the show Samurai Shamploo. He was also carrying a Souvenir Samurai sword that he had just bought from a local Asian city store. The Sword was metal, but it wasn't very sharp. They cost about thirty comic con had just happened in the area and, as a lover of cosplay, the said kind of fire dairy and up. He was super...

...excited to just be rocking this outfit. Do you want to tell us about Samurai Shamploo? Well, so, my second form of expertise is, frankly, anime. so forgive me, it's been many years since I've last Watch Samurai Champloo, but to give you very basic ideas and information. So basically it aired may fourteen and two thousand and five through March ninth two thousand and six. In essence it follows three characters. Mougan, who is kind of a very go with the flow type of sword fighter, and then you also have food, who is a waitress at a tea shop, and you also have Jin, who's a young Ronan, young Ronin, who's more traditional style of sword fighters. Both are very powerful. They actually fight just because they feel one is stronger than the other, but they want to find out who that one is, which both you've said three Jinin and Mougan. They both fight each other to see who's stronger than who. So Darien was walking around what is often described as a shopping mall or a shopping plaza, but according to Michelle, it's actually a smaller plaza with just a gas station, Panda Express, Pizza Hut and a tea mobile. At around forty am, a man driving by, noticing the sword, apparently didn't realize that it was not real, for he quickly called nine hundred and one to alert authorities that there was a man walking around the plaza that might pose a threat. He did, at the very least, to mention that Darien was only walking, not posing any sort of threat to any of the other passerbys. It wasn't long before officers Matt Shore Hammer and Nicholas Judson arrived at the scene. According to the officers, as per an investigative report put out by the Utah County Attorney's Office, upon spotting hunt, the officers exited their vehicles and walked towards Darien. The two officers had arrived in separate vehicles. Officer Judson had arrived first, with officer shoe or hammer showing up almost immediately after him as back up. I don't know why officer Judson needed back up as soon as he arrived, but all right. The officers reportedly asked Darian what he was up to, to which he responded, quote, I'm looking for a ride and quote. The officers say they offered dairy and a ride, but also asked him if he could put his sword down on the roof of one of their cop cars for just a second while they talked. It's important to note, I think, that the open carry of a blade, despite the length, is perfectly legal in the State of Utah. They claim that following the request to set his blade down, Darian's demeanor drastically changed. Reportedly, he responded to the request with, quote, I can't do that and quote, in a tone that the officers described as, quote, really calm and disturbing and quote. When asked why he couldn't do that, he said, quote, it's my sword and quote. The officers describe Darian's demeanor as really calm, almost eerily so, saying that the conversation was not heated or escalating in any way. The report then states that quote. At some point in the conversation, Hunt drew the Samurai sword from the sheath and jumped or lunge, towards shoe or Hammer, swinging the sword. Both officers drew their handguns and shot at hunt, fearing for their safety and for the safety of the citizens around them. and quote. It then goes to describe darian running northeast towards a Panda Express. Once Darion was on the east side of the Panda Express, officer Sho or hammer shot at him. Once again. Darien was still running for his life after the shot was fired, but the next time officer shoe or hammer discharged his weapon, Darien was fatally wounded. He would die at the scene. The entire ordeal lasted only thirty seven seconds. This came just a...

...month and one day after Michael Brown had been fatally shot by police on August night two thousand and fourteen. DARIAN's family, despite the unimaginable heartbreak they must be feeling, immediately began championing for their boy, demanding justice for what had happened. His Mom Susan Hunt stated, quote, they killed my son because he's black. No white boy with a little sword would they shoot while he's running away. and quote, notably, Saratoga Springs is about ninety percent white and one percent black. So one thing to know. So if you purchase a sword, whether it be from a shop or from a convention, which is actually because I actually have the same movie and stored as well, they're not allowed to sharpen them and you also need to be either a over the age of eighteen or be your parent has to purchase it for you. Darien was twenty two, so he would have been able. Yea. So he purchased it on his own and I said those, those source don't come sharpened and they're more of decorative pieces, because you know, they're not making actual Katanas that are that are meant to cut limbs. Yeah, the swords don't in any way, shape or form come like they aren't actually really danger to any also of note, I think when I went as Harley Quinn a couple years ago, I had a fake gun with me that didn't necessarily look unrealistic and I was never worried that anyone call the police. No one called the police. Like we went to Duncan donuts, no one cared at all then. No point did they question because you had the gun on you. HMM, well, it was my Airsoft Gun, right, yeah, it was your airsoft gun and it was like the silver one, this one that looks like pretty realistic and no worries, I mean granite, you know, like people knew that there was a convention like a couple a couple blocks down. Yeah, but I'm kind of just happened. Yeah, should yeah. So, I mean it's not like no one thought anything of you. Exactly, like when the Duncan donuts employees laughed when we came in. They obviously felt no fear. No one called the police. They never even occurred to me that someone might call the police. So Sad. So some more facts of the case. A toxicology report which show that dairy and did not have any drugs or alcohol in his system. Not Super Relevant, but I know sometimes people try to demonize victims in these situations with facts like that. So Darien was stone cold sober. He had been shot six times, once in the right of his back, when once in the upper right arm, his right forearm, left upper arm, and twice in the left hip. Five of the shots came from behind him, hitting the back of his body, and one shot hit him from the side. According to the same investigative report that we referenced earlier, she or Hammer felt justified in using deadly force because he was, quote, concerned he was going to hurt unwary citizens in the parking lot or at the Walmart store which was close by, and quote. He would also state that he feared Darien would quote hack the first person he saw. End. Quote. Interestingly enough, the report also contains two varying accounts of what happens as per each officer involved. Officer Judson described a series of events in which Darion waved the sword above his head and swung down at officer Shure Hammer. Officer Shure Hammer, on the other hand, said that Darien remove the sword from its sheath and quote, jumped and quote, towards officer Judson. No mention of Darien raising the sword above his head or of him lunging at Shore Hammer. Obviously, both accounts cannot be true. Surveillance footage does exist that shows darian running through a parking lot and pass the front doors of Panda Express. You can see the officers close behind in hot pursuit. Footage doesn't exist, however, of the initial confrontation or of the actual shooting. So we have no video proof of what occurred. There are a couple...

...witness statements that I find pretty interesting and relevant to the case. The first one is from a woman named Joscelyn. She said that she was filling up her gas tank at a station opposite the area where Darien and the officers were talking. She states that she took a photograph of the scene. The photo she captured appears very relaxed. It even looks like dairy and is smiling. Joscelyn said it looks like they were having a normal conversation. In no way did it look heated. She also described Darien as holding the sword horizontally out in front of him, almost as if he was offering it up to someone. She says she then gotten her car and very quickly after she heard gunfire. Another witness by the name of Kimberly said that she was in her parked car in the shopping plaza when she observed Darien and the officers having what she described as a, quote, casual conversation and, quote, she says she then turned her head for just a moment and when she did, she heard gunshots. Another witness by the name of John Initially said that he saw Darien swing his sword at the officers. However, he has since recanted the statement and he now denies both seeing and saying that he saw Darien act in any sort of threatening manner. I'm actually will going to show you the picture that Joscelyn took and you can tell me the energy and the vibe that you get from it. So you see him like in the middle, you see him wearing you know, you can tell it him, and you just see the cops. They're just like casually talking to him. Like if I were to see that in person, I would assume that they're just telling him, listen, kid, like, don't you don't need to walk around with a sword in your hands. It seems very casual. It doesn't seem at all threatening. Darian does actually look like he's smiling, in my opinion. No, no, absolutely, like he looks like he's just like laughing that, like the cops were called because he's carrying a prop sword, like it's comparable to calling the cops on someone with a BB gun in your hands. It is, yeah, except, I mean, I would be more threatened by BB gun that I would with the sword. I would too, because if I saw someone with that, I would assume it was a fake sword and actually was like they were cosplaying or they were just someone that was into stuff like that and they just had a fake sword and they like the lots, they're carrying it around. I would never think that someone had an actual, Real Samurai sword and we're just walking around a plaza. No, no, absolutely not. And he'd like I said, in that picture he looks, oh no, like I don't know what the COP vibe was, but from just seeing that he just looks. He looks chill. He doesn't it doesn't look like he's threatening any wanted anyway. MMM. The cops look chill too, and that's what the witnesses say, and I think it's interesting that both Jocelyn and Kimberly say that it appeared totally fine. They turn their heads for a second and they hear gunshots. That is suspicious to me. I really don't like how that sounds. Anyway, more facts of the case. Darian's family believes that, given the many cameras in and around the plaza in which Darion was killed, that there is footage of the incident's key moments. That is being covered up. Officer Shu or hammer was not wearing a body cam at the time of the incident. Officer Judson was, but he had not turned it on. The camera was looked at to see if any footage had been erased, and it was found that it had not. In addition to this, the Dash Cams in their patrol cars apparently were not on either, because they also captured no footage. Despite officer Shu or hammer not wearing a body cam, he had recently written in a blog post quote. In my experience, having a body camera has always been a beneficial thing, whether accurately documenting and recording a crime scene or making suspects accountable for their words and deeds. Cameras are an incredible tool at an officer's disposal and quote. Yet for some reason, the day of Darien's death, officer Shu or hammer did not feel... necessary to wear his body Cam. I also like that he only speaks of holding perpetrators accountable. Yes, plice definitely never need to be held accountable for anything. Of course, in November of two thousand and fourteen, so very shortly after the incident, the Utah County Attorney's office ruled the shooting justified. They were of the opinion that the officers truly felt that their lives were threatened by Darien. According to an article from vox quote, the county attorney's justification directly references the low legal bar please have to meet to justify a shooting. Officers don't have to prove a shooting victim was an actual threat. Instead, cops only have to show that they had a, quote, objectively reasonable belief that their lives or the lives of others were in danger. and quote. I mean that is so vague. It's almost like they can shoot at anyone. Yeah, like at that point, if you're going to be like that, then it's hard to dispute any any shooting. You can't. You can't dispute any of them. Someone can always claim they feel like they were in danger. They felt like they were in danger in the moment to get out of because I feel like it's human nature to defend yourself in that way and try to get out of a murder exactly. Oh and I forgot to mention that while this instant was being investigated, both officers were placed on paid leave, but they immediately got their jobs back and, as far as I know, are still working to this day. The city had offered Susan Hunt, who again was Darien's mom, and nine hundred thousand dollars settlement in the case, which she refused. One of the conditions of the settlement would have been that she could no longer publicly advocate for her son or discuss his case, and she said she felt like she was being offered hush money and there was no way she was ever going to take it. Amen to that. Despite this, however, US District Judge Tina Campbell ordered that sue isn't hunt except the settlement, citing correspondence that Susan Hunt had with her attorney in which she appeared to have agreed to it. According to the judge, that is just so insulting to a mother who lost her child and is trying to fight to get justice in his case. They're so insulting, like you have to think that you're as a judge, you're going to force her to take a settlement. I don't know if this woman has children, but one has to think like at any point to for someone to not to see, in essence, stop talking about the tragic way and then there're in what way their son was killed. At that point I'm easily nine hundred grand. No, yeah, that nine hundred grand for her son's life. That's that's for to not get justice for her son. I keep going back to those women saying that one second the conversation was totally fine, Darien was totally fine. They turn their heads, one second later they're hearing gunshots. That does not sit right with me, not at all. And then also, conveniently, nobody cams. No Cams, especially for someone who, quote unquote, advocates for it. None of it makes sense. It doesn't. And if if you look at the picture, which I me personally, I highly recommend that you do if you see it. I'm not going to say that you will, but there's a really high possibility you will understand what you're talking about. I'll definitely link the picture in the show notes and I'll try and post on my instagram. So Susan Hunt maintains that she never ever considered taking hush money from the state, and Darien's entire family continue to work tirelessly to achieve justice for their boy. They actually have a couple changeoog petitions that they release that are both trying to help get Darien's case reopens and re examined. I'll definitely, definitely be linking those will. Do you have any final thoughts? I do actually have a question, because I absolutely do do the change like is. It's...

...not like I'm going to be honest when I had to hide my ignorance when it comes to this. Do do they actually, like, make a huge difference? I've always heard that they do. Yes, I think, especially when you get to tens of thousands or millions even of signatures, that's the public showing that they are watching and they're putting pressure on whoever the petition is fighting for fighting against. So yeah, I've in my experience, yeah, they do actually make a difference, because a lot, of course, and then I'll see that there are people all over the country or all over the world that are like, we're watching you or waiting to see what your next move is. MMM. Then, yeah, I know there's virtually no reason not to sign a petition. I want to go down too much of a tangent, but there's a serious problem where he's a threat to someone's life. I'm mind you, a kid dress like an anime characters, a threat to someone's life, and I bring up his name a lot, but rock Turner, yeah, a guy who, I'm sorry, a scumbag, who rapped a girl behind a dumpster, isn't you know, as an anime fan myself, at this point like nothing is off limits. All they truly do is just they silenced her. They put a dollar amount on her son and her son's life and her son's case and told her either take it or we drop the case entirely. In essence, I mean either way they dropped the case entirely. I am not sure. I couldn't find it if it's been released, but she was forced to take the settlement, but she also still continues to advocate publicly for her son. So I don't know what sort of legal agreement was reached or if she somehow was able to own yeah, but she does still publicly advocate for her son. Thankfully she's still able to do that. I just think I mean the one. The witness that said he saw Darien swing the sword up and down on the officers is now saying he never said that and that Darien wasn't threatening at all. The other witnesses say that the conversation looked totally fine and then boom, gunshots. He was running for his life. I mean, if they needed him to stop that bad they couldn't have taste him. I mean, when someone's running for their life or not a threat to you anymore, and he wasn't, even he refused to put a sword down that he was totally justified and protected by the law in carrying. I just don't he wasn't threatening anyone's life, he was just trying to save his own, and maybe he didn't want to put down his property when he knew, yeah, he paid, yea that he paid for and that he was carrying legally, yeah, and safely and bringing no harm to anyone. I want to stress that. Enough was who's well within his right, well within his right, and yet they were unsettled. Mind you, in the midst of a pandemic, you have people literally walking around with what a R fifteen because they don't want to wear fucking masks? Yeah, because they want haircuts. Yeah, but that's not a threat. You don't see that as a viable threat. But we know either. Not a threat, yeah, but a Samurai thought sword. Careful, this gets dangerous. Michelle also told me remember she had known Darien's family only a little bit, but she still knew of them, knew who they were. She said that dairy and actually looked younger in person. He almost look like a high schooler. So essentially it's a kid, HMM, walking around with a fake sword which the law, even if it was a real sword, would not prohibit him from carrying. He is no threat to anyone and in after a thirty seven second or deal with the police, he ends up dead. Mind you, even in the initial call, which I can only imagine the guilt the Guy, a person who called in Darien, he clearly states he's not he's not...

...a threat to anyone. He's just casually walking. The one operator asks what Daarian is doing and the guy says the kids just walking. So he even admits that he's not an active threat. Yeah, and the fact that the officer, officer Judson, came already with back up. I mean that's just I know it is kind of common practice for two officers to show up at a scene, but he's not described as his partner anything. It's described as back up and normally backup isn't called unless there's like a significant threat to the officer. So that just leaves me to believe that officer Judson saw a person of color and was his with thought process was Oh, this is a threat, with a significant threat. Absolutely, and this case also was right around the time that Michael Brown was shot and killed by police. In many ways, that case was the catalyst of the black lives matter movement, which, I want to be clear, this podcast wholeheartedly supports. Yes, absolutely, I don't know why this one didn't Garner national attention. I mean, of course all of them can't, but with it being so close to kind of the thing that started the movement, that does surprise me. I hope that this podcast reaches some people and brings more attention to Darien's case. Please, please support his family and by signing that petition. It's totally free, it takes all of thirty seconds and it makes a real difference. I want to thank Michelle again for recommending this case to me. I had never heard of it, but every case like this deserves attention and deserves a spotlight shown on it. Thank you so much, will, for coming on for this one. I was so happy to have you talked about stuff you love so much. Is Really Cool. Thank you. Of course. We'll definitely have you back soon and thank you, guys, as always, so so much for listening. You can find me on instagram and twitter at lock the door pod in our facebook group, did you lock the door? or you can email me at lock the door pod at gmailcom reach out to me, message me with K suggestions, thoughts, theories or just to say hi. I always want to talk to you, guys and, as always, make sure you lock your doors by.

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