SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The mother of a black man shot by Utah police while holding a costume samurai sword has settled a lawsuit over his death, resolving a conflict with her onetime lawyer that reached a federal appeals court.
The final settlement terms are confidential but acceptable to mother Susan Hunt, her lawyer, Clemens Landau, said Thursday. Hunt had been asking an appeals court to overturn a judge's ruling that enforced a $900,000 agreement with the city of Saratoga Springs.
That money was deposited into a court account and will now be split between Hunt and her ex-husband, with about 20 percent going to her former lawyers, according to court documents.
Hunt said her ex-attorney wrongly authorized the deal with the city of Saratoga Springs on her behalf. Attorney Robert Sykes denied that and produced a recorded phone conversation where she apparently agreed, though with some reluctance.
Hunt told reporters she rejected the money because it would bar her from talking publicly about her son. Darrien Hunt, 22, was killed by police who stopped him as he walked around a busy shopping area with a metal costume samurai sword in 2014 in Saratoga Springs, about 35 miles south of Salt Lake City.
The officers fired their guns because they feared he could hurt people with the sword, which looked authentic, said Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman, who found the shooting legally justified.
But Darrien Hunt's family said he was no danger and was treated differently because he was black. The officers involved are white, and the NAACP called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate how the city handled the case.
City lawyers have said Susan Hunt misunderstood the terms of the settlement deal, and U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell decided the first settlement was valid. Susan Hunt appealed to the 10th Circuit Court in Denver, where the two sides hashed out the new settlement.