Family of man shot by police demands answers
West Valley City — Protesters gathered outside the West Valley City Police Department Saturday demanding action after a police shooting last weekend.
Last Saturday, West Valley City Police said they got a call about a theft at a cell phone store. They said 20-year-old Elijah Smith, who an officer saw nearby, matched the description of the suspect from the store. When police approached Smith, they said he ran. Police said he ran to a garage, then to a house where they said he went inside. They said three officers followed him into the house and one of them fired at Smith, killing him.
Saturday afternoon, Smith’s family talked to reporters outside the department. His mother, Roshawna Carter, said she wanted answers.
“Why did they have to do what they did? Why did they kill him?” Carter said.
Police have not released details about what happened in the moments leading up to the shooting. Unified Police are handling the investigation into the shooting. Carter said she did not believe her son had any weapons. She said he was generally a good son.
“He was the type of person who always lifted up other people, encouraged them,” Carter said. “Even as a child, I remember him at a daycare and there was a kid that was a special needs child and he would always play with her. She was always playing by herself and so he would always go and be her friend,”
Family members said they spoke with people at the homes who said they had not felt threatened when Smith came in. The family, as well as protesters who joined them Saturday, want the police department to release video from the officers’ body cameras. Police have said the officers were wearing them and they were turned on at the time. They also want to know the name of the officer who shot Smith. While they wait for the investigation into the shooting to end, they say they want to see action.
“He deserves to be laid to rest in peace, knowing that the person that shot him is going to be penalized for it,” said Smith’s aunt, Amber Townsend.
The family set up an account to help with funeral donations.