United States District Court, D. Utah
THE ESTATE OF DILLON TAYLOR, CODY TAYLOR, JERRAIL TAYLOR, TEESHA TAYLOR, and ADAM THAYNE, Plaintiffs,
SALT LAKE CITY, CITY OF SOUTH SALT LAKE, SALT LAKE COUNTY, BRON CRUZ, ANDREW SYLLELOGLOU; UPPSEN DOWNES, CHRIS KOTRODIMOS, JAMES SPANGENBERG, CHIEF MIKE BROWN, VAUGHN DELAHUNTY, CRAIG HICKEN, CHASE HERMANSEN, JOE SUTERA, CHIEF JACK CARRUTH, and JOHN and JANE DOES 1-35, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR
NUFFER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case arises from a police encounter with Dillon Taylor
(“Mr. Taylor”), Jerrail Taylor
(“Jerrail”), and Adam Thayne (“Adam”)
on August 11, 2014. The encounter resulted in the shooting
death of Mr. Taylor and the detention of Jerrail and
events are a tragedy to everyone involved and to the
community. The resulting impact undoubtedly remains deeply
felt and weighs heavy on the hearts and minds of the parties
and their families now several years later. On a broader
scale, this case presents important issues to the community
as a whole. The qualified immunity doctrine can lead to
results that some may view as harsh or unjust, regardless of
the outcome. But the law necessitates the doctrine's
application to the facts of this case. There is no way to
reset or change the past. Yet being mindful of the past can
guide future decisions and conduct to avoid similar
Complaint asserts several claims for violation of civil
rights and wrongful death against multiple government
entities and law enforcement officers. Through a series
of stipulations,  the only remaining claims are
Plaintiffs' first cause of action against Officer Bron
Cruz for use of excessive force and Plaintiffs' fourth cause
of action against Salt Lake City for deliberate indifference
in its policies, training, and investigation relating to
Officer Cruz's conduct. Officer Cruz and Salt Lake City
seek summary judgment on these claims, arguing that Officer
Cruz is entitled to qualified immunity, and that Salt Lake
City cannot be held liable because Officer Cruz's conduct
did not violate a statutory or constitutional
right. Plaintiffs argue that genuine issues of
material fact preclude summary judgment.
the undisputed material facts demonstrate that Officer
Cruz's use of deadly force in the August 11, 2014
encounter with Mr. Taylor was objectively reasonable under
the circumstances, Officer Cruz did not violate a statutory
or constitutional right and is entitled to qualified immunity
as a matter of law. And because Officer Cruz's conduct
did not violate a statutory or constitutional right, Salt
Lake City cannot, as a matter of law, be held liable for
Officer Cruz's conduct. Therefore, the Motion for Summary
Judgment is GRANTED.
Cruz is entitled to qualified immunity on Plaintiffs'
excessive force claim because his use of deadly force in the
August 11, 2014 encounter with Mr. Taylor did not violate a
statutory or constitutional right
Cruz's use of deadly force was objectively reasonable in
light of the dispatch report of a man with a gun and the
unknown motivations of the suspects
Cruz's use of deadly force was objectively reasonable in
light of the potential threat of serious physical harm posed
by Mr. Taylor ................ 37
Taylor refused to comply with the officers' repeated
commands that he stop and show his hands
Taylor made a sudden and hostile “draw stroke
motion” with his hands while refusing to comply with
the officers' commands, and while directly facing Officer
Cruz ................................................. 41
Taylor and Officers Cruz and Sylleloglou were in close
proximity during the encounter
Taylor manifested hostile and defiant intentions in relation
to the officers
Mr. Taylor posed a potential threat of serious physical harm
to the officers or others
Cruz's use of deadly force was objectively reasonable in
light of Mr. Taylor's attempts to resist or evade arrest
Cruz's use of deadly force was objectively reasonable
under the totality of the circumstances
Lake City cannot be held liable on Plaintiffs' municipal
liability claim relating to Officer Cruz's conduct
preliminary matter, Plaintiffs object to the admissibility of
statements made by Jerrail and Adam while they were detained
and interviewed by law enforcement officers on August 11,
2014. Plaintiffs argue that because the
statements were obtained in violation of Jerrail and
Adam's Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable
searches and seizures, the statements are
the Tenth Circuit has not weighed in on this precise issue,
‘federal courts of appeals have widely held that the
exclusionary rule does not apply in § 1983
cases.'” These “[c]ourts have been
reluctant to extend the exclusionary rule beyond the criminal
context because its purpose is to deter police misconduct and
safeguard Fourth Amendment rights, rather than serve as [a]
personal constitutional right of those
aggrieved.” “Application of the exclusionary
rule in the civil context [also] comes at a significant cost:
‘officers could be forced to pay damages based on an
overly truncated version of the
evidence.'” Indeed, “[r]ecognizing these
substantial costs, the U.S. Supreme Court has
‘repeatedly declined to extend the exclusionary rule to
proceedings other than criminal
authorities are persuasive. Moreover, Plaintiffs repeatedly
rely on Jerrail and Adam's statements to officers in
support of their arguments and in attempting to establish
genuine issues of material fact. It would be improper to
invoke the exclusionary rule to shield statements that
Plaintiffs believe are unfavorable, while disregarding the
rule for statements that Plaintiffs believe favorable. The
exclusionary rule will not apply to the statements made by
Jerrail and Adam while they were detained and interviewed by
law enforcement officers on August 11, 2014. The statements
approximately 7:00 p.m. on August 11, 2014, a 911 call was
dispatched to Salt Lake City police officers by radio as a
“report of a man with a gun” at 1900 South 200
East; “suspect flashed a gun at the complainant but no
threat was made;” “male Hispanic wearing white
shirt, red pants, red baseball cap; also another male
Hispanic wearing a striped shirt; they were last seen
southbound on 200 East.”
dispatcher also informed officers that no shots had been
fired; no one was in danger; the complainant was not
cooperative and hung up on the call taker; and the
complainant refused to provide her identifying
dispatcher asked officers if there was “any unit coming
clear to handle a check?”
call was not dispatched as a “brandishing”
Officer Cruz was on patrol in the area and responded to the
dispatch report to ensure that the suspects were not a threat
to public safety and to determine whether any laws had been
or were being violated, including a possible
Officer Cruz did not notice the comments “no shots
fired” or “no one in danger.”
Officer Uppsen Downes was the first (between Officers Andrew
Sylleloglou, Cruz, and Downes) to respond to the dispatch
first officer to respond was Sergeant Charly Goodman. Officer
Downes responded to the call approximately 10 seconds after
it was dispatched and responded, “back 160, ”
which is the No. for Sergeant Goodman. Officer Cruz responded
approximately 47 seconds later. Then Officer Sylleloglou
asked Officer Cruz if he wanted help or backup.
Officer Cruz indicated that he wanted backup, and Officers
Sylleloglou and Downes responded that they were en
Officer Cruz believed the call was dispatched as to a group
of men, one of whom had “brandished” a
Neither Officers Downes nor Sylleloglou ever used the term
“brandish” to describe the call.
Officer Downes did not believe the call warranted his
emergency lights or siren when traveling to the area under
Upon approaching the area in his police vehicle, Officer Cruz
saw three men walking together, who were later identified as
Mr. Taylor, Jerrail, and Adam. Two of the men generally
matched the descriptions provided by the dispatcher. The
three men were proceeding along 2100 South at approximately
150 East and heading west.
Officer Cruz continued following the three men in his police
vehicle while staying approximately a block away. He
indicated to dispatch that he would wait for the arrival of
backup officers before approaching the three
Officer Cruz asked the dispatcher whether the report
identified which of the three men flashed the gun, and was
told that the log did not indicate which one.
Officer Cruz was 50 to 75 feet away from the three men, and
facing them, when he observed them walk west toward him and
cross State Street at 2100 South.
the three men reached the west side of the intersection,
Officer Cruz observed the male in the white shirt, later
identified as Mr. Taylor, walk up to a car stopped at the red
light and interact with the driver, while the other two males
were “throwing their hands in the air, kind of making a
big scene.” This interaction lasted five to 10
Officer Cruz described the exchange as “some kind of
distraction or disturbance” and possibly
“harassing the driver.” Officer Cruz stated the
exchange was “not typical” and “unusual,
” since “you don't just walk up to people in
a crosswalk, somebody that maybe you don't know, and
start engaging them while they are sitting in their car in
Salt Lake City Police Crime Scene Technician Benjamin Bender
also witnessed the exchange and described it as:
A male in a white t-shirt and blue jeans approached a red
sedan that was waiting at the northbound red light. This
Technician's view of the male was obstructed by passing
vehicles, but the male appeared to high-five the driver of
the vehicle and then jogged across the remainder of the
intersection where he joined the other two males at the
Officer Cruz then observed the three men as they entered the
7-Eleven convenience store on the corner of 2100 South and
State Street, and decided to wait until they exited the
7-Eleven before approaching them.
While watching from across the street in a Subway parking
lot, Officer Cruz expressed to Officer Downes that he really
hoped “those guys don't rob the store,
” and that he “hope[d] nothing bad
is going to happen in the store.” When asked
what he meant by this, Officer Cruz stated in his deposition:
Well, it was a - it was a more personal conversation between
Officer Downes and I. You go to - one of the first things you
learn as an officer - you know, man with a gun calls, they
are not uncommon. And when you are prepared, you run as many
scenarios through your head as possible, just to be as
prepared as possible. And one of those scenarios that had
crossed my mind ever so briefly was something - you know, a
convenience store robbery. They are very common. It's
just something that crossed my mind, just another
Officer Downes noted at that time it was “[b]usiness as
normal it appeared for the store.”
Surveillance video from the 7-Eleven shows the three men
entering the store, making a purchase, and then exiting the
store a short time later.
the one or two minutes the three men were inside the
7-Eleven, they completed their purchases without incident and
exited in a normal manner without having robbed the store,
harassed any customers, or caused any
three men exited the 7-Eleven after Officer Downes arrived
and as Officer Sylleloglou was arriving.
Taylor exited the 7-Eleven a few feet behind Jerrail and
Officer Cruz called out over the radio that the three men
were leaving the 7-Eleven as Officers Downes and Cruz were
already on their way across the street from where they were
staged at the Subway parking lot.
Officer Downes arrived at the 7-Eleven just ahead of Officer
Cruz and drove his vehicle past the front of the store to
cover the rear in case the three men ran away in that
his interview, Officer Cruz stated:
[Officer] Downes and I both went across the street. I
anticipated I, I had the south position and for reasons I
can't explain, [Officer] Downes, he said, “I'm
going out back.” Um, as these three just walked
straight out into the parking lot. Um, and so he just kept
driving. He drove around the building but I felt, felt good
when I saw [Officer Sylleloglou].
his deposition, Officer Cruz stated: “I - I don't
remember hearing [Officer] Downes express that he would go
around back.” And when asked how he felt when Officer
Downes drove to the back, Officer Cruz stated: “It
didn't make me feel - at the time, I don't know that
it made me feel anything. I was focused on the suspects in
front of me;” “I would not say it worried me;
not at the time.”
Neither Officers Sylleloglou nor Downes were concerned by
Officer Downes's decision to drive to the rear of the
7-Eleven, but rather saw it as a necessary move and standard
his interview, Officer Cruz stated that when he initiated his
red and blue emergency lights, “for a split second, I
felt a little bit better about the
Although Officer Cruz had engaged the lights on his own
vehicle, Officer Downes did not turn on his vehicle's red
and blue emergency lights at any time during the
Officer Sylleloglou was the first to arrive on the scene at
the 7-Eleven, pulling directly in front of Jerrail and Adam
as they exited the store.
Officers Cruz and Sylleloglou approached the men in their
marked police vehicles from opposite directions. Officer Cruz
approached from the east and Officer Sylleloglou approached
from the west, forming a barricade or “V”
blocking the path of the three men as they walked alongside
each other in the 7-Eleven's parking lot.
Officer Cruz was wearing his dark tinted, department-issued,
“duty Oakleys” throughout the encounter with the
the three men exited the 7-Eleven, Officer Cruz believed that
all three of them looked at him and the other officers, and
he stated in his interview:
But what eased tensions in my mind, slightly, because they
all lined up perfectly for us. They were all perfectly lined
up and that just made me feel so good inside. All their hands
were just down at their sides. I could see their hands and
the tensions just, I just felt it go down for a split
Taylor appeared to look directly at Officer Cruz's police
vehicle approaching from the east with its lights flashing as
it moved in front of the path of the three men.
Officer Cruz described that moment as: “He looks right
at me for a split second he turned around and he starts
Officer Cruz also stated in his interview:
Um, and as soon as [the two men raised their hands] it was
pretty much simultaneous in my mind. They did this and again,
he looked dead at me and I looked dead at him and as soon as
they did that, he turns around and this is what I
Officer Cruz stated in his deposition that the first time he
felt somewhere on the “spectrum of fear” was
“when [he] looked into [Mr. Taylor]'s
his interview, Officer Cruz explained:
Q: Um, you said on first contact two of them complied. Put
their hands up just when you said the word,
Q: But the third one looked at you - in the white shirt?
A: In the white shirt.
Q: And kept walking?
A: He looked directly at me and ah, he turned around and
walked off with - and his hands, his hands is what, his hands
is what did it.
Q: You said that he, ah, looked at you with defiance?
A: Yeah. He looked at me like, ah, he, I mean I don't
know how to explain it. Um, you know but you can tell when
you look into somebody's eyes when you're working
with them. Um, that's when you know it's, it's,
it's ah, it's one of the clues that we have when
we're dealing with people. Um their eyes can tell you a
lot. Um, and his eyes were just complete just 100% defiance.
He had this, this, this look on his face like you know? Like
I, ah, hate? Um, um, and ah, like he was, he was not going to
do anything that I said. Um, and it was just a horrible
feeling. Um, looking at him. Having him, you know just the,
it was just horrible. Just hate, defiance, that he had in his
Q: And you've seen this kinda look before you're
saying with, with work-related circumstances?
A; I've seen, ah, I don't know that I've seen it
like that. I mean, I've seen a type of it before.
I've seen it when people aren't gonna comply and they
look at you like, “I'll fight you first.” Q:
A: “I'll do whatever I need to do but you're
not, you're not taking me down.” Q: Okay.
A: Um, and, and that's yeah, it was an extreme version of
Taylor also appeared to look at Officer Sylleloglou's
police vehicle approaching from the west as it moved in front
of the three men.
Officers Cruz and Sylleloglou, wearing their patrol uniforms,
exited their vehicles and gave commands to the three men to
stop and show their hands.
Because one of the men was reportedly armed, Officer
Sylleloglou drew his gun in a low ready position, but did not
aim at the three men.
of the men, later identified as Jerrail and Adam, immediately
stopped and raised their hands.
his deposition, Officer Cruz described the initial encounter:
I exited my police car and all I did was tell the individuals
to stop. I had already gotten that look of defiance from [Mr.
Taylor]. The other two immediately put their hands in the
air. . . . Right when I'm stopping my car.
Officer Cruz explained in his interview that when he saw the
two men with their hands in the air:
[I]t scared the crap out of me when those two raised their
hands. Like they knew there was a gun or weapon was involved,
that's the only time they do that. They never put their
hands up like that. Those two put their hands straight up in
the air and that confirmed to me, even more, there was a gun
So, the other two put their hands out, just like this. Um,
and, and without any, without any prompting that, this is
what they did. Which, again, was very, it was even more
concerning. Uh, because people don't do this when we
contact them unless we believe they have a gun. Or
Officer Downes stated in his deposition that in his
experience the presence of officers makes people put their
hands up “a lot of the time.”
Jerrail and Adam acknowledged that they both saw the marked
police vehicles approaching from opposite directions and
uniformed police officers approaching the three men and
giving commands to stop and show their hands.
third man, wearing a white shirt and later identified as Mr.
Taylor, looked at the officers, but did not stop, and instead
turned and walked in the opposite direction away from the
officers and Jerrail and Adam, moving back towards the
entrance of the 7-Eleven.
When Jerrail was asked if he thought there was any possible
way that Mr. Taylor could not have seen the three police
vehicles and the officers approaching with their guns drawn,
he stated: “I don't know how he didn't see
Immediately upon his arrival, Officer Sylleloglou exited and
ran around the front of his vehicle in a south/west diagonal
in pursuit of Mr. Taylor, who was walking away.
Officer Sylleloglou stated in his interview that he could not
see Mr. Taylor clearly at first:
[Mr. Taylor] was kinda covered by the red truck . . . cause
he was kind of, sort of, behind it.
I didn't, I don't remember seeing anything in his
hands. Like I said, he was partially obstructed by the red
Taylor was already walking away from Officer Cruz before
Officer Cruz had fully exited his vehicle and cleared its
Officer Cruz initially followed some distance behind Mr.
Taylor and Officer Sylleloglou.
After turning his attention to Mr. Taylor, Officer Cruz
“wish[ed he] had another couple guys to watch the other
two [men, ]” except that “their eyes looked
Taylor can be seen on the 7-Eleven surveillance video and
still photos walking back toward the 7-Eleven, and around the
front of a red truck before heading west along the front of
Mr. Taylor walked away, Officer Sylleloglou shouted several
times: “Hey, you in the white shirt, stop.” Mr.
Taylor did not stop or show his hands.
Jerrail saw that Mr. Taylor was walking away and told him to
When Jerrail saw Mr. Taylor walking away, he figured that Mr.
Taylor was avoiding contact with the officers. He stated in
his interview: “I don't know if he was ignoring the
cops, like, ‘Fuck it, I'm gonna cut through here
and walk to the Trax.”
Jerrail described the situation:
In my head, I'm thinking, my, my head's, my
adrenaline's running, I'm thinking, “What the
fuck did I just do? I can't walk in America and buy a
goddamn drink and a beer?” like, “What am I doing
wrong here.” I'm all, “What the hell?”
And [Dillon] was like, “Ah shit, ” you know what
I'm saying? Like, “What the fuck did we do.”
So he was, “alright, y'all, fuck this.” He
put his headphones in, walked away, the next thing you know
the cop was all, “Hey, stop, stop.” But he's
got his headphones in, he can't hear him.
Jerrail saw Mr. Taylor's headphones were in and was
concerned Mr. Taylor could not hear what the officers were
saying behind him as he walked away. He stated in his
interview: “I was like, ‘What the fuck,' and
as I'm getting on the ground, I see [Dillon] walking,
I'm like, ‘Oh fuck, here we go.' I'm like,
‘Dude, just fuck stop,' but he had his headphones
Officer Downes arrived on the east side of the 7-Eleven
parking lot, he saw Jerrail and Adam standing by the police
vehicles and that Officers Cruz and Sylleloglou were pursuing
Mr. Taylor as he walked away along the sidewalk next to the
Officer Downes approached Jerrail and Adam where they were
stopped and detained them.
Jerrail and Adam began arguing with Officer Downes, asking
him what was happening and why the police were
“hassling” them. The “back and forth”
continued until Officer Downes heard Officer Cruz fire his
Officer Downes did not draw his gun on the two men. He
explained in his deposition: “Because I could see their
hands, and they were - those two individuals were essentially
compliant. They were not fighting with me. We were just
investigating. So, at that point, it was not a
threat.” He noted further:
For me, the factors were we had information there was a
possible weapon. The two that I was dealing with did not
present as an initial threat. They were not playing with
their waistband. They didn't take a fighting stance. They
stopped as if I were to stop you, kind of questioning why. So
that doesn't register to me as an initial threat.
Still we know there was a possible weapon. We don't know
if it was them or not because a lot of criminals will hide
that fact and act like everyone else. So there was still
I wanted to be close enough where I would be able to control
the situation better because [Officer] Cruz was going towards
the other individual, and there were civilians all around us,
non-law enforcement personnel. So if they decided to produce
a weapon, there is no telling where those rounds are going to
go. If I'm standing too far back, I cannot maintain
Mr. Taylor walked away with Officers Cruz and Sylleloglou in
pursuit, Officer Downes remained with Jerrail and Adam. As
the “backing officer, ” he directed 20% of his
attention toward Officer Cruz and 80% of his attention toward
Jerrail and Adam.
Officer Downes continued to bounce back and forth between the
two men and looking in the direction of Officer Cruz, but
with his focus on Mr. Taylor.
Based on his understanding that one of the three men had a
gun, Officer Cruz believed that the gun was very likely in
the possession of Mr. Taylor, who was walking away and,
unlike Jerrail and Adam, was not complying with the
officers' commands to stop.
his deposition, Officer Cruz explained: “I was
maintaining distance at that - yeah, I was not trying to
close on somebody that I believed had a
Officer Cruz stated that closing the distance would not
“make any sense.”
Officer Cruz's body camera shows that Mr. Taylor was
wearing a baggy t-shirt and baggy pants.
Mr. Taylor walked along the side of the 7-Eleven away from
Officers Cruz and Sylleloglou with his back to them, he can
be seen raising his hands to the sides of his
Taylor then put his hands inside the front waistband of his
pants, and made digging motions with his hands, at which
point Officer Cruz began training his weapon on Mr.
Officer Cruz believed Mr. Taylor's hands were concealed
in his waistband area due to the position of his elbows when
viewed from behind.
Mr. Taylor continued walking along the sidewalk in front of
the 7-Eleven, Officer Cruz followed directly behind him, and
Officer Sylleloglou walked south and west towards him, both
shouting commands to “stop, you in the white shirt,
” and “get your hands out.”
Taylor did not stop but continued walking west along the
his interview, Officer Cruz stated:
That was when I knew something was gonna be bad. Um, cause he
looked right at me, um, with complete, total defiance in his
eyes. Um, and when his hands disappeared that's when I
drew my gun. Because I knew his hands, they were like this
through his waistband.
And the way he looked at me? And then turned around? There
was no doubt in my mind what he was doing with his
Taylor's “look, ” combined with his turning
around and walking away led Officer Cruz to conclude that
when Mr. Taylor's hands went to his waistband:
I was 100%, 100% convinced when I saw him turn around that it
was gonna be a gunfight. I know he had that gun that he'd
be trying to kill us there was nothing else he could be doing
than going for a gun.
Taylor “calmly walk[ing] away” and
“creating distance” also heightened Officer
Cruz's distress at the situation:
Um, and it scared me even more that he wasn't running
away. He was buying time. He was buying time and he was
creating distance. That's all he was doing. Very calmly
walked away. With his hands right in his waist
Officer Sylleloglou also began training his gun on Mr. Taylor
when he saw that Mr. Taylor appeared to put his hands inside
the front waistband of his pants.
Officer Sylleloglou was north of Mr. Taylor in the 7-Eleven
parking lot and walked in Mr. Taylor's direction but
staying perpendicular to Mr. Taylor as he walked westward,
while shouting repeated commands to Mr. Taylor to stop and
show his hands.
Taylor looked directly at Officer Sylleloglou with a
“mean mug” look on his face, meaning that it
appeared he heard Officers Sylleloglou and Cruz shouting
commands and was deliberately ignoring their commands.
Officer Sylleloglou described the look on Mr. Taylor's
face as hostile and defiant.
this point, Mr. Taylor was no more than 15 feet in front of
Officer Sylleloglou, looking at him, but still walking
Officer Sylleloglou was 100% certain that Mr. Taylor saw him,
heard his commands, and deliberately chose to ignore
Jerrail recalled hearing Mr. Taylor say something along the
lines of “what did we do” in response to the
some point during the interaction, Mr. Taylor said something
to Officer Sylleloglou about “shooting him.” When
asked if he remembered exactly what Mr. Taylor said, Officer
Sylleloglou responded: “He said, ‘What are you
gonna do, shh, I think it was - this is as close to verbatim
as I can get - ‘What are you gonna do, shoot me? What
are you gonna do? You gonna shoot me? You gonna shoot
Officer Cruz never reported hearing this exchange. Instead,
he only reported hearing Mr. Taylor saying something about,
“Make me, ” after he turned around just before he
Officer Cruz continued to yell repeated commands to Mr.
Taylor. “get your hands out now, get your hands out,
get your . . . get ‘em out!”
Officer Sylleloglou stated in his interview, “[a]nd
then I know I yelled at him too . . . ‘let me see your
. . . I think I may have just said, ‘Hands! Hands!
Hands!'” When the interviewer asked whether he
remembered anything else Officer Cruz said, Officer
Sylleloglou responded: “No, I couldn't, you know, I
just . . . we were both kinda, I was just listening to him,
and then I would say something, I would say
‘hands,' and he would yell ‘hey, hey, get
your hands! Get your hands out of your pock' . . . I mean
he was yelling at him to get his hands out of
Taylor did not respond and continued walking away from
Officers Cruz and Sylleloglou with his hands remaining inside
the front waistband of his pants.
Mr. Taylor reached the end of the sidewalk and began walking
across the parking lot of the 7-Eleven with Officer Cruz
telling him to “get your hands out, ” Mr. Taylor
turned around to directly face Officer Cruz, and Officer Cruz
trained his weapon directly at Mr. Taylor.
Officer Downs heard Officer Cruz give Mr. Taylor the command,
“Show me your hands, ” and saw Mr. Taylor
continuing to walk backward.
Mr. Taylor faced Officer Cruz, he continued to walk backwards
with both hands inside the loose waistband of his pants,
concealing his hands down to his wrists, and moving them in a
When asked to describe the action of Mr. Taylor's hands,
Officer Cruz remarked about Mr. Taylor's
“baggy” pants. The investigator asked,
“Baggy?” and Officer Cruz responded:
Like they usually are with people that we deal with when
they're concealing things. But, ah, his hands were buried
like this in his pants. Buried. . . . And when they're
buried way, wrists deep and his sh - you know, he's
clawing at something then he's this. This is what I see.
This is what I see in his baggy pants. This.
They're not just sitting there. They're just digging,
digging and he has this look on his face like, you,
“Come and get me. I'm gonna fricken kill
While facing Officer Cruz, and as Officer Cruz continued to
shout repeated commands to “get your hands out, ”
Mr. Taylor said something which sounded like “what
fool” or “nah fool” on Officer Cruz's
Officer Cruz's recollection was that Mr. Taylor said
something at that moment along the lines of “come and
When asked in his deposition how Mr. Taylor responded to his
commands, Officer Cruz recounted:
He didn't. He responded by continually showing me that he
was manipulating or retrieving something from his pants, from
his waistband. That is how he responded. . . . And he -
sorry. He also responded with the look of defiance. He also
Suddenly and without warning, while facing Officer Cruz, Mr.
Taylor quickly raised his left hand from inside the loose
waistband of his pants, lifting his shirt and exposing his
Mr. Taylor simultaneously brought his right hand out of his
loose waistband of his pants, but lower than his left
that moment, Mr. Taylor was approximately 10 to 12 feet away
from Officer Cruz and 12 to 15 feet away from Officer
Officer Downes saw Mr. Taylor lifting up his shirt but could
not make anything out.
Officer Cruz's interview, the investigator asked whether
Mr. Taylor had manipulated his shirt. Officer Cruz responded:
I mean yeah, his shirt was you know eh, you know, his shirt
was raising with his pants. You know? It was this, this
tugging motion. This drawing motion, whatever . . . you know,
I'm not sure what to call it.
Believing that Mr. Taylor's movements indicated he was
“drawing” or reaching for a gun, and that Mr.
Taylor intended to fire on the officers, Officer Cruz acted
in self-defense by firing two shots in rapid succession,
striking Mr. Taylor in the torso.
According to the medical examiner, two rounds hit Mr. Taylor.
one in his “upper central chest” and a second one
in the “right upper quadrant of [the] abdomen”
which also grazed the third and fourth fingers of his left
When asked by the investigator if Mr. Taylor's hand ever
came toward him, Officer Cruz responded, “I could not -
no, it didn't because I could not wait that
When the investigator asked Officer Cruz if he thought Mr.
Taylor might have had a gun that could have caused harm to
him or another, Officer Cruz responded:
I was convinced, 100% there was nothing else he was doing.
Nothing else he could have been doing then getting a gun
t-t-to try and kill one of us. To try and kill somebody.
Nothing else. There was zero; nothing else made sense.
The investigator then asked how that made Officer Cruz feel.
Officer Cruz responded:
I was scared to death. The last thought I had go through my
mind when I pulled the trigger; and I'll never forget
this. Was uh, was that “I was too late. I was too late.
And because of that I was gonna get killed. Worse, my officer
was gonna get killed” . . . . And that was the
shittiest feeling. . . . And I was like, “I'm gonna
get us killed.”
Officer Cruz described the events to investigators:
I heard [Officer Sylleloglou], five to seven feet off to my
right, I could see him in my peripheral. He was yelling at
him too. “Show us your hands. Stop. Show us your
hands.” Um, and he turned around. He didn't stop.
He never stopped. He turned around. Um, and it was only worse
because his hands they were dove in his pants. They were just
completely wrist-deep in his pants and he wasn't just
warming up his pants, his hands on a cold day. It wasn't
Um, he wasn't just hiding his hands. He was, he was
digging at something. He was manipulating something. I knew
there was a gun in those pants. And, ah, at that point I
mean, my gun I've had it center-massed, trained on him
and I was yelling at him and he was looking directly at me,
directly at my eyes. And I looked directly in his eyes. And
he looked at me like, “You're not gonna. You're
not gonna stop me.” Um, and, “I'm gonna kill
you guys.” And I think he said something. I don't
remember what he was saying. He was yelling, “You make
me.” Or, “you can't make me, ” or some
crap. I, I can't remember. But we yelled at him. I yelled
at him with every, as loud as I could. “Let me see your
hands. Let me see your hands.” And he looked down the
barrel of my gun. It just felt like an eternity. Um, and he,
he didn't. He kept digging. He kept digging. Digging.
Manipulating something in his pants.
And I knew he, he was ju - he'd already made up his mind
and he just - I was just giving him time to just kill one of
us. I don't know if the gun was caught or it if was
falling down? Or I, I don't know. He was taking off the
safety? I don't know what he was manipulating, something.
And I knew it was a deadly force situation. No. doubt in my
mind, no doubt in my mind. I needed to see his damn hands. I
couldn't take the chance of him shooting my officer or
And, ah, and after I yelled at him for what felt like an
eternity with my gun trained right on him he did nothing but
keep digging at that gun in his pants or whatever the hell it
was. Without any hesitation. Without any reservation in the
world I fired at him. And I would have kept firing until that
deadly threat had stopped.
After firing his weapon, Officer Cruz called “shots
fired” over the radio and immediately requested medical
Officer Cruz then handcuffed Mr. Taylor, searched his pockets
looking for a gun, and rendered first aid.
No. gun was found.
Mr. Taylor died at the scene.
From the time Mr. Taylor turned around and came face-to-face
with the officers until he was shot is approximately four
Minutes after Mr. Taylor was shot, Officer Sylleloglou
explained to another officer what had happened:
And uh, what happened was we found these two guys that are in
our cars. The dude in the white over here, he kept walking,
and then he ignored us. So [Officer Cruz] and I went up to
him kind of, kind of cornered him like this. And he starts
doing this and he starts backing up like digging into his
pock - like this, and then he, and then he's like,
“get your hands out of your, get your hands out, get
your hands out, get your hands out, ” and then as soon
as he made an overt movement ...