VICE News is closely watching policing in America. Check out the Officer Involved blog here.
A small riot erupted in Salt Lake City after police shot a teenage boy near a homeless shelter on Saturday night.
The shooting occurred at around 8pm in the northern part of the city, near a shopping mall about five miles east of the airport. Witness Selam Mohammed, 19, told local news outlets that his friend was trying to break up a fight outside the Road Home, a homeless shelter, when police arrived on the scene.
Mohammed said his Kenyan friend, who remains unidentified, was wielding a broomstick when police approached him from behind with their guns drawn and ordered him to drop it. The teen was reportedly shot four times in the chest and stomach.
"He wasn't even swinging at anybody, he didn't know the cops were behind him," Mohammed told Utah's KSL radio. "They already had their guns out and told him to drop it… and boom boom! He barely even turned around… as soon as he turned around he just dropped."
Salt Lake City Police said on Twitter that officers were "on unrelated call in area," when they were "alerted to assault in progress" and "tried to engage altercation."The teen, whose age has not been confirmed but has been listed as 16 in some accounts, was hospitalized and his condition is unknown.
After the shooting, a crowd gathered and began pelting the cops with rocks, bottles, and debris. Dozens of officers from multiple police agencies responded, and video footage from the scene showed police vehicles blocking off the street and attempting to disperse the crowd. Authorities also shut down public transit in the area.
The Salt Lake Tribune said its reporters observed angry bystanders "yelling obscenities at police and throwing rocks."
Detective Greg Wilking of the Salt Lake City Police Department told the local newspaper that there were "a lot of hostile people upset about what had taken place." Wilking would only confirm to the paper that "shots were fired," but wouldn't say how many or provide any other details about the incident.
Under Utah state law, officer-involved shootings must be investigated by an outside agency, and the Unified Police Department, which serves Salt Lake County, has reportedly been tasked with conducting the investigation in this case. Salt Lake City Police referred an inquiry from VICE News on Sunday to the Unified Police Department, which did not have a spokesman immediately available to comment.
According to KSL, Wilking couldn't confirm whether there would be body camera footage of the shooting. He also said several people were injured and detained after the riot, but didn't provide any further details.
Follow Atoosa Moinzadeh on Twitter: @amoinzadeh