Utah governor declares state of emergency after civil unrest erupts

It’s a story that is playing out in city after city across America. This time, the violence has come to Salt Lake City.

Utah’s governor, Gary Herbert, just declared a state of emergency, after protests surrounding the death of Bernardo Palacios Carbajal turned violent.

Carbajal was an armed fugitive who fled from police, then attempted to retrieve his gun after dropping it. After an investigation by the District Attorney, the two officers who shot Carbajal were found to be justified.

The reaction from protesters quickly turned violent, with attacks on the District Attorney’s office. That’s when Gov. Herbert stepped in with his declaration of a state of emergency.

The irony of the situation is that the protests are over a shooting that appears to have been fully justified. As The Hill comments:

During a press conference that lasted about 75 minutes, Gil methodically went over police body camera video, surveillance video not shown before in public and autopsy photos to explain how he reached his 34-page conclusion that also contained interviews with the officers involved.

Officers Neil Iversen and Kevin Fortuna reasonably believed that they were in imminent risk of being shot or killed by Palacios, who more than once made concerted efforts to pick up a gun he dropped rather than run away, Gill noted in his report.

The description of the shooting leaves little doubt that officers acted with restraint:

The use of deadly force actually happened during two separate episodes, he said. The first was when officers were chasing Palacios. At that time, officers thought he had a gun, which is why they had their guns drawn as they were running after him, according to the report. But it wasn’t until Palacios dropped his weapon a third time and stopped to pick it up that they knew for sure that it was a gun.

At that point, the two officers fired six to eight rounds each from about 15 feet away, striking Palacios in the back. Both officers fired at nearly the same time, Gill said.

It’s unfortunate that Americans in every city are subject to outbreaks of violence, especially when that violence is aimed at officers who are doing their jobs with integrity under difficult circumstances.

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