SALT LAKE CITY – Police are withholding footage from body cameras that officers were wearing when a 17-year-old boy who was wielding a metal stick was shot and critically injured, a brief confrontation that ignited hours of unrest in Salt Lake City's bustling downtown.
Salt Lake City police say they are not releasing the footage because of the ongoing investigation and the possibility that the teenager could face charges.
The teenager was shot twice in the torso and remained in critical condition Sunday, according to Detective Ken Hansen with the Unified Police Department, which is investigating the shooting. Salt Lake City Police declined to identify the boy because he is a minor.
The department said the teen and another person were attacking a third person with metal sticks Saturday night when officers stepped in. Officers told them to drop their weapons, but the teen instead moved menacingly toward the victim, Salt Lake City Police Detective Greg Wilking said.
That's when one or both of the officers opened fire.
Police had said earlier Sunday that the teenager was shot when he tried to attack one of the officers. Wilking said investigators were still trying to determine if that was the case. He said they had not yet interviewed the officers involved, neither of whom was injured.
Police are not releasing the identity of the officers but said Sunday that both were placed administrative leave while the incident is investigated.
Bystander Selam Mohammad told The Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News that he was friends with the teenager and said the boy was shot as he turned to face police.
"He barely even turned around, then boom, boom, boom — and he just dropped," Mohammad told the Deseret News.
Hansen said he could not confirm or deny that account.
After the shooting, bystanders began yelling obscenities and throwing rocks and bottles at police, who called in about 100 officers to help.
Police barricaded four surrounding city blocks and a light rail stop in the neighborhood was closed.
Hansen said the area was relatively busy, with people visiting a shopping center and restaurants and others hanging out at a nearby homeless shelter.
"There were pockets of that disturbance for hours," Hansen said Sunday.
Wilking said bystanders were throwing objects at police for only about 10 minutes. He said police asked people to leave, but did not physically move anyone. Four people were arrested for civil disorder, Salt Lake City police said.
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski said in a statement Sunday that she was saddened and that the shooting was a tragedy for everyone involved.
"The use of force by law enforcement against the public can tear at the delicate balance of trust between both sides, and must be taken extremely seriously," she said. "These incidents create a number of unanswered questions in the short term, and justice requires we work together in good faith to find answers."