A police officer shot a 16-year-old boy when he refused to drop the broomstick he was holding in Salt Lake City last night.
The officer was responding to an unrelated call in the Utah capital at 8.15pm when his team spotted two teenagers arguing with a man, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
Surrounding them, police allegedly told the boy to drop what he was holding – part of a broomstick.
When he did not, ‘shots were fired’. The boy was hit in the chest and the stomach.
The shooting sparked fierce protests that ripped through the city on Saturday night.
Around 100 officers were dispatched to contain the uproar as crowds shouted and threw objects at police, Fox reports.
The boy’s friend, Selam Mohammed, who was stood next to him at the time, claims the officers only gave the boy one chance to drop the broomstick in his hand.
‘The police said “drop it” once, then they shot him four times,’ Mohammed told Fox News.
‘We were trying to break it up before the police even came, but the police ran in on foot and pulled their guns out already, they already had them, like, as soon as he was running he was already grabbing for his gun, not even trying to Tase him or anything…
‘He said “drop it” [then] boom boom! Four times.’
Once shots were fired, hundreds of people flooded the streets screaming at officers and throwing rocks, bottles and other debris at officers, Fox reports.
Utah’s transit authority shut down tram services in the area until 11pm as multiple law enforcement agencies combined to tackle the uproar.
Fans at the Utah Jazz game at Vivint Smart Home Arena were advised mid-game to avoid the area on leaving.
Detective Greg Wilking told the Tribune he did not know how many shots were fired or whether an officer fired them.
Salt Lake City police told the newspaper that one officer – and possibly a second one – were involved in the shooting.
The victim was taken to a hospital, the Tribune reported.
City police were helped by officers from three other departments as onlookers threw rocks at officers and yelled obscenities, the Tribune said. Police closed a light rail stop in the neighborhood.
Police detained multiple people but Wilking could not elaborate on the reason for the detentions.
There were ‘a lot of hostile people upset about what had taken place,’ Wilking told the Tribune.
At 8.40pm, a line of officers moved protesters down a sidewalk, the newspaper reported.
There are a number of homeless shelters in the neighborhood, and business owners have long complained about the homeless population and drug dealing, the Tribune said.