SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A rally against the death of Bernardo Palacios-Carabjal — who was shot and killed by Salt Lake City police officers in May — ended abruptly Thursday after a protester was arrested by police.
Family members and several supporters have been protesting his death for weeks, demanding both Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall to fire the officers responsible.
Protest organizer Sofia Alcala told KSL the group planned to meet in a different place at a different time than usual for Thursday’s protest “to catch people by surprise.”
The plan was for protesters to meet at Washington Square park in the afternoon. There, Alcala addressed the group of 40 calling for answers — including information about who is responsible for Palacios’ death.
While Alcala was addressing the crowd, she was informed one of the protesters was arrested in a different area of the park.
Salt Lake police detective Greg Wilking said the protester was arrested because they were interfering with a traffic stop nearby. The protester approached the traffic stop to begin filming the officers involved.
While this wasn’t an “issue in of itself,” Wilking said, it caused police to divert their attention after the protester came into the roadway. He was shortly arrested after officers asked him to move out of the street, but he didn’t.
“It interfered with the situation, which is really dangerous for officers to have to divert their attention from a traffic stop over to a pedestrian,” Wilking said. “He has the right to film but he needs to not interfere.”
Laja Field was driving past the arrest when she pulled over, noting the interaction looked somewhat violent. She began filming the interaction on her phone.
“They were literally four officers kneeling. I didn’t know if they were punching him or whatever,” Field said.
Wilking said the level of force used by officers is “often dictated by the individual that we are arresting.”
“My understanding is there was a degree of force used and that will all be documented on camera,” he said. “Our officers have cameras.”
Shortly after hearing about the arrest, Sofia Alcala quickly ended the protest to gather details on what happened.
“Just for safety purposes I’m going to need to figure out what happened to him and if he’s OK, so I’m just going to call this protest for the rest of the day,” she said to protesters. “Get home safe, please.”
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