Salt Lake City reaches $3M settlement with parents of unarmed, autistic child shot by police

The child was seriously injured in the 2020 police shooting.

(Salt Lake City Police Department) A screenshot of body camera footage shows the interaction between Salt Lake City Police Department and Linden Cameron, a 13-year-old boy with autism, on September 4, 2020. Linden was shot multiple times just as police called near 500 South and Navajo Street to help with what officials described as a “violent mental health issue.”

In a historic settlement, Salt Lake City has agreed to pay $3 million to the parents of an unarmed autistic child who was shot dead by a Salt Lake City police officer in 2020, the parents announced Tuesday.

The parents filed their excessive-force complaint with Salt Lake City police in November 2020, two months after the boy was shot. Andrew Wittenberg, a spokesman for the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office, confirmed late Tuesday that the settlement represents the largest amount the city has ever been willing to pay.

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“Although the settlement does not constitute an admission of liability, the parties agree on it [Linden Cameron]The shooting was a tragedy,” Wittenberg said in a written statement. “The settlement represents a concerted effort to reach a compromise that resolves and offers this case outside of formal litigation [Linden] with resources for lifelong long-term care.”

The breakup comes just over two years after Golda Barton called police on the night of September 4, 2020 asking for help for her son Linden, who was 13 at the time and was in crisis.

When officers came to her home, she told them her son was afraid of police officers and she feared he would run away. Linden’s grandfather was shot dead by police in Nevada earlier this year.

As police approached the home, audio captured by body cameras suggested officers were asking why they were reacting. An officer asked why they were “approaching” about a “mental health issue” at Linden’s home.

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‘We could call Sergeant,’ she said, ‘and explain the situation to him. Because I’m not going to get in a gunfight because he’s upset.”

“Yes,” replied officer Matthew Farillas, who later shot Linden, “especially if he hates cops, it’s going to end in a shootout.”

When the officers responded, Linden ran away. Body camera footage shows police chasing Linden down a dark street and opening fire on him when he didn’t heed her repeated “Get on the ground!” commands.

Farillas fired 11 shots, the lawsuit says. Linden survived but was badly injured.

The child’s family described the settlement as “a crucial step in raising awareness of people with mental health problems”, according to a statement from their lawyers.

“SLC and SLCPD continue to deny responsibility for the shooting. … However, their actions after the shooting show that despite legal arguments that might be made, they understood the wrong,” the statement said.

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A month after police shot Linden, the Salt Lake City Police Department announced a partnership with KultureCity, an organization that trains first responders how to deal with people with sensory needs like Linden.

According to KultureCity, people with PTSD, dementia, Parkinson’s and other conditions may also have trouble responding to sensory input.

The city has offered and continues to offer this training to all first responders, Wittenberg said in Tuesday’s statement.

In their statement, Linden’s family urged other departments to make sensory inclusive training mandatory.

A Salt Lake Tribune analysis of police shootings in Utah between 2010 and 2020 showed that more than 40% of the time, someone was involved in a mental health crisis — and experts said the true number is likely higher.

Salt Lake County prosecutors have not yet announced their findings in the criminal investigation into the shooting. Linden’s family said in their statement that the determination was “long overdue”.

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