In this photo, taken, Friday, Sept. 12, 2014, shows Susan Hunt holding a photo of her family, including her son, Darrien Hunt, at her home in Saratoga Springs, Utah.
Photo by Michelle Tessier/Deseret News/AP

Race claimed as factor in Utah police shooting death

Updated

A Utah mother is insisting that race played a key role in the police shooting death of her 22-year-old son. Susan Hunt, who is white, told the Deseret News that police killed her son Darrien Hunt “because he’s black.”

On Wednesday morning, police in Saratoga Springs were called to Redwood Road to investigate a man carrying a “Samurai-type sword.” Hunt’s aunt, Cindy Moss, described the sword as a three-foot long decorative item. Authorities said when the officers tried to make contact with Hunt, he “lunged toward the officers with the sword, at which time Mr. Hunt was shot.”

Police said in a statement on Saturday that claims that officers’ actions were a result of his race are “completely unfounded and speculative.”

Randall Edwards, an attorney for the Hunt family, is refuting the claim that Hunt was a threat to police, arguing Hunt was shot in the back. 

“An independent autopsy, done at the behest of Hunt’s family, reveals that he was shot numerous times, all from the rear,” Edwards said in a statement to KUTV. “This is consistent with statements made by witnesses on the scene who report that Darrien was shot to death while running away from the police.”

“It would appear difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile these facts with a story that Darrien was lunging toward the officers when he was shot. We continue to hope that a full investigation will reveal the whole truth about this tragedy,” the statement added.

Susan Hunt’s insistence that her son was shot because he’s black comes as protests continue in Ferguson, Missouri, over the police shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown last month.

The latest shooting also took place in the same city in which Mia Love — who is vying to become the first black Republican woman ever to be elected to Congress — served as mayor from 2010 to January of this year.

The Saratoga Springs shooting remains under investigation by the authorities. A candlelight vigil will be held on Sunday evening near the location of Hunt’s death. 

Melissa Harris-Perry, 9/13/14, 10:34 AM ET

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Race claimed as factor in Utah police shooting death

Updated