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Family members of man shot dead by police call for officer's firing

OGDEN — Family members of a black man shot and killed after he ran from police in August are calling for the officer to lose his job and face criminal charges.

The Salt Lake County district attorney's determination that the Aug. 13 shooting of Patrick Harmon was justified "doesn't add up," said Lamar Ross, Harmon's nephew. "We're hoping justice is served and the D.A. reverses his decision."

The video of the shooting is heartbreaking and shows police didn't do enough to de-escalate the situation, added Harmon's sister, Antoinette Harmon.

"They need to stop killing people," she said. "Who gave police the right to be the judge and jury to take people's loved ones?"

Ross said the officers with batons and Tasers shouldn't have resorted to using a gun. The officer who fired at Harmon "should be thrown in prison," Ross said in an interview at his home in Ogden. He said he was scheduled to meet with Sim Gill, the district attorney, Tuesday morning, and was eager to hear from Gill's side.

The family's comments followed a weekend protest in Salt Lake City by Black Lives Matter and others in the wake of the ruling that the shooting was legally justified.

The footage appears to show Harmon, 50, shot from behind after Salt Lake police officer Clinton Fox yelled "I'll (expletive) shoot you." The images have fueled public anger.

Harmon was stopped after a Salt Lake City police officer saw him ride his bicycle across each of six lanes of traffic on a downtown street and noticed that he didn't have a required rear light.

Police started to arrest him for outstanding warrants. The video shows Harmon looking distraught but cooperating before he suddenly breaks into the run that ended with his death.

Gill said a slowed-down version shows Harmon turning toward officers. He was struck in the upper left buttock and left arm at a trajectory that would fit a pivot toward officers, Gill said.

Police said Harmon had a knife in his hand and threatened to stab or cut them. A knife isn't discernible in the video, but officers found one at the scene.

Antoinette Harmon said her brother had bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

His niece, Alisha Shaw, also recalled him as a protector of his family who was "bubbly, funny, just full of life."

Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown has said he stands behind Fox, who is white. He said his officers have the training and judgment to make split-second decisions.

Protesters over the weekend called for Gill's resignation. Gill said he believes protesters have an important civic role but stands by his decision. He found Fox was legally justified because he could have reasonably feared death or serious injury.

"I'm not going to go anywhere for trying to apply the law that's given and struggle through it," he said.

Harmon's son, Patrick Harmon Jr., said through Ross that the family was seeking justice, but didn't go into detail. Harmon's children live in Missouri and Colorado, Ross said.

"I don't want to make this a black and white issue. To me, it's a civilian and officer issue," Ross said. Still, he said, demonstrations drawing attention to deadly police force against black people are important. He pointed to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem as an example.

The shooting comes amid national debate about race and policing. Two incidents in Utah have fanned local protests.

In 2014, officers in Lehi shot and killed 22-year-old Darrien Hunt, who was wielding a samurai sword. In 2016, police wounded Abdi Mohamed, a teenager who was shot when he refused to drop a broom stick in a 2016 fight near the Salt Lake homeless shelter.

Contributing: Nicole Vowell