Darrien Hunt, may have been killed by police in a predominately white community in Utah for engaging in “Cosplay.” Cosplay is short for Costume Play, a form of dressing up as a comic book character (in this case a Japanese Manga character). The Guardian reports that this may indeed be the reason why two cops decided to gun down Mr. Hunt, because he was dressed as “Mugen, a swordsman character in the short-lived Japanese anime series Samurai Champloo.” It’s a show I have seen, because my son is a big manga and anime fan. Here’s a photo of him taken on that day shortly before he was shot six times and died of his wounds, and yes he is dressed like Mugen. Even his hair is standing up, worn in the style of the Mugen character.

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Mr Hunt, the young African American man killed in Saratoga Springs, Utah allegedly lunged at police officers that day with a blunt Katana style vanity sword (that very much resembles the one my son owns). Authorities in Utah claim his sword was a deadly weapon which he swing violently at the police and that this justified them to shoot him down outside a mall, despite the fact that an autopsy by the family revealed all six bullets that hit Darrien’s body hit him from behind, strongly suggesting he was shot while running for his life and away from the police.

So, why was Darrien Hunt carrying that blunt vanity sword around in the first place? It appears he was a fan a Japanese manga comic books, and was likely role playing as a character from one of those comics when someone called 911 and police responded by confronting him and then killing him:

The family of a young black man shot dead by police in Utah after walking around a strip mall with a replica samurai-style sword say they have discovered sketchbooks in which he left drawings of manga-like characters and fantasy scenes.

Relatives of Darrien Hunt are taking increasingly seriously the possibility that he was engaged in cosplay – dressing up as comic book character for a kind of performance art – on the morning earlier this month when he was killed in Saratoga Springs, according to their attorney. […]

Family and friends have struggled to explain why Hunt wandered around the neighbourhood with the two-to-three-foot metal sword, which they say was bought from a gift shop and did not have a sharp edge. Police say that it had a sharpened point and appeared to have a dangerous blade.

Attention was swiftly drawn online to Hunt’s remarkable resemblance as he walked around on the morning of 10 September to Mugen, a swordsman character in the short-lived Japanese anime series Samurai Champloo. The Comic Con convention had also taken place in Salt Lake City, about 35 miles to the north, the weekend before the shooting.

Hunt’s aunt, Cindy Moss, previously told the Guardian that a witness to the confrontation with police had told the family that Hunt “had his earbuds in, and was kind of doing spins and stuff, like pretending he’s a samurai”.

The family has asked for the Justice Department to open an investigation, since it appears the local authorities are refusing to disclose all that they know about the incident, including the fact that one officer may have been wearing a body camera that may contain footage of the incident. Various authorities have given different answers to whether the police officers involved wore such cameras.

It all comes back to motive. What motive would the Darrien Hunt have had for lunging at police with a sword he knew had a blunt edge (like my son’s sword) after he was confronted by two armed police officers? Nothing I’ve read suggests he was a candidate for suicide by cop? He was dressed up as a comic book character. Would anyone in that community called the cops if a white male of his age was walking around dressed up the same way? Would police have reacted the same way to a young white male doing the same thing, i.e., cosplaying? Hunt was near a store that sold manga books and anime films. The witness who saw him and the police right before the shooting started said Hunt appeared calm.

Just moments before Hunt’s killing, a woman at a nearby gas station photographed the young man, with his towering Afro, speaking with the cops as they appear relaxed and at ease, not in any defensive position, but it’s unclear if Hunt’s hands were occupied.

“She says that within seconds, she looked down to finish pumping her gas and he was on the run and they are shooting at him,” Edwards stated. Adding that from where she snapped the photo to the Panda Express, where Hunt’s body collapsed, is about 100 to 150 yards apart.

I’m sorry, but this stinks to whatever Mormon heaven exists in the minds of the good folks of Saratoga Springs, Utah, a wealthy enclave where 93 percent of the people are white and only 1 percent at most are black. But likely he will just be another instance of a young black man shot dead by police whose case will not be investigated by anyone. Unlike the Michael Brown case where multiple witnesses described the cold blooded actions of Officer Wilson, or the case in Ohio, where surveillance video exists that shows clearly John Crawford III posed no threat to anyone (though that didn’t help convince a Grand Jury to indict John Crawford’s killer), there is no video and the only eyewitnesses to what caused the police to shoot Mr. Hunt in the back are the two police officers who killed him.

My condolences to the family. Meanwhile, more police shootings of people of color will continue unabated, it seems.

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