Salt Lake City, UT -- On January 8, 2015, 42-year-old James Dudley Barker was killed by Officer Matthew Taylor. Since then, Taylor managed to avoid charges because the body camera footage gave an incomplete depiction on the incident.
However, exactly one year later, cell phone camera footage was released showing that Barker was face down with his hands behind his back when he was shot 3 times by officer Taylor.
On the day of his death, Barker was knocking on his neighbors door and offering to shovel snow for them. One of the neighbors became suspicious and called 911 to report Barker. When police arrived on the scene, Barker was uncooperative with them and an argument ensued. In the midst of the argument, Barker hit one of the officers with a shovel, and that is when the body camera footage was cut off.
Taylor then claims that he shot Barker in self-defense because he feared for his life, and his story was accepted as truth until the release 0f the new video.
The new video shows that officer Taylor kneeled down over Barker and shot him three times in the back as he was laying on the ground with his hands behind his back.
Attorney Robert Rubin says that it appears that Barker was actually handcuffed at the time of his murder.
The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office responded to the new evidence this week, saying that they may re-open the case against Taylor.
"Our job and our commitment has always been [to be] as thorough and open and transparent as we can, so we are going to do our due diligence to re-examine what we have," District Attorney Sim Gill said.
Family, friends and supporters of Barker protested at the site of his murder this week, demanding a new investigation into his death.
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Barker was described by his neighbors as a peaceful and friendly person.
"If this could happen to one of our most peaceful citizens, … I cannot stress this enough, it can happen to anyone,"Barker's girlfriend Heidi Keilbaugh said.
"The degree of aggression that we witnessed by Officer Taylor before [Barker's] death was uncalled for, it was unprofessional, and it turned a peaceful situation deadly. We want these needless deaths of our loved ones … to stop," she added.
Barker may have been violent with the officer at some point during the confrontation. However, it is obviously murder for a police officer to shoot and kill a person who is restrained, regardless of what that person had done.
While police-worn body cameras can bring extra evidence into cases on both sides, they are far from a fix for police brutality. This situation gives us a glimpse into how police attempt to manipulate the body camera footage that gets seen by the general public. It is commonplace for officers to turn off their dash cams when they are guilty of a crime, and this incident is another example of the same type of censoring occurring with body cameras as well. Body cameras are not a magic solution and they are only as reliable as the people who are in charge of the footage.
Body cameras are not a magic solution and they are only as reliable as the people who are in charge of the footage. Below is a perfect example of that claim.
As the video begins, Taylor kneels down over Barker, and we can hear 3 loud blasts — allegedly gunshots. Taylor then stands up and walks away.
Toward the end of the video, a witness walks up, but then is turned away by police. It was case closed after that -- until now.
John Vibes is an author and researcher who organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference. He also has a publishing company where he offers a censorship free platform for both fiction and non-fiction writers. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can purchase his books, or get your own book published at his website www.JohnVibes.com.