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Lawsuit Claims Racial Bias in Fatal Salt Lake Police Shooting of Black Man

SALT LAKE CITY — The children of a black man fatally shot by a Salt Lake police officer two years ago claim in a lawsuit that the killing reflects a pattern of racial bias and use of excessive force.

Patrick Harmon, 50, was shot and killed by officer Clinton Fox on Aug. 13, 2017, after Harmon threatened to “cut you” while holding a knife and facing three officers close by, according to a report from the district attorney’s office.

Harmon was initially stopped by police for riding his bicycle across six lanes of traffic on State Street near 1000 South and for not having a required tail light, the report states. After giving officers several different names, police learned that Harmon had several warrants out for his arrest.

As officers put Harmon’s hands behind his back to handcuff him, Harmon ran from them, stopping at one point and turning around to face the officers while holding a knife, according to the report.

Harmon’s son, Patrick Harmon II, and daughter, Tasha Smith, dispute that account of the incident.

“All three officers later claimed that Mr. Harmon, while fleeing, yelled words to the effect of ‘I’ll stab you,’ and then lunged at the officers, knife in his hand. The problem with this description of events is that all three officers wore body cameras. From three different angles, there is no knife visible in Mr. Harmon’s hands,” according to the lawsuit.

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