Protests Continue for Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal, Exposing “Killer Cops” and Painting Streets Red


Ivana Martinez

Protesters paint the streets red, to illustrates all the blood that has been spilled by the police at the District Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City on June 27, 2020. (Photo by Ivana Martinez | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ivana Martinez and Natalie Colby

Too much blood has been spilled. The people of Salt Lake are chanting, “Not One More.”

As protests continue for almost a month, they have honed in on securing justice for Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal who was shot over 20 times in the back by the Salt Lake City Police Department on May 23, 2020. 

On June 27 at 4 p.m., protesters met at 900 South 300 W., where Palacios-Carbajal was killed. They marched the city streets to demand justice for Bernardo, Cody Belgard and Etzli-Cortez-Trujillo who have all suffered, many died, at the hands of SLC PD. They also marched for Darrion Hunt, who was killed by the Saratoga Springs Police Department, and Chad Breinholt, who was killed by the West Valley Police Department.

Family members and friends spoke of Palacios-Carbajal’s kindness, love and creative nature. They also said they could feel him with them at the memorial. 

At the protest, lead organizer of Justice for Bernardo, Sofia Alcala, claimed that the SLCPD officers who shot Palacios-Carbajal to death were Officer Jessica Kilgore and Officer Stephan Masters. 

The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office contacted the Daily Utah Chronicle to rebut: “Officer Kilgore was not involved in the shooting. We haven’t released the names of the shooting officers.”

Masters was involved in the murder of Cody Belgard two years ago and remained on the force.

According to a screenshot DM’d to the Chronicle news team by the County’s DA office, Sim Gill, the district attorney said, “For the sake of factual clarity, without compromising the current review, we can unequivocally state that Officer Masters was not involved in the Palacios-Carbajal shooting.”

Kilgore was assigned to the case of Etzli-Cortez Trujillo, a missing person and member of both the Latinx and LGBTQ+ community. Their family has criticized inaction by SLCPD. 

In April, the Chronicle published an article that detailed Stephany Cortez’s, Cortez-Trujillo’s sister, experience and frustration with her sibling’s case. 

Following the publishing of the article, Kilgore personally texted Cortez and criticized Cortez for having an attitude with her and promptly ceased communication with Cortez, contacting only the parents of Cortez-Trujillo. 

“I got some mean text messages from her, what it feels like trying to intimidate me to shut my mouth. But I mean after what I saw what she did to Bernardo the following month…it doesn’t surprise me because she doesn’t care about people of color,” Cortez said. 

Two months later, no progress has been made or contact has been had with the family on the case of their missing family member. 

“I know the main part of it is just rage. I’m incredibly angry at her, like Bernardo [he] could be my brother,” Cortez said. “It’s like he was my brother, it’s just kind of what I see when she shot him, that’s what you think of my brother? He’s just nothing to you, you can just easily shoot him or ignore his case like that.” 

Cortez addressed the crowd in front of the mural at 800 south 300 W. about her experience and desire to find her sibling and immediately received support from organizer Sofia Alcala, and those surrounding her.

“Justice for Etzli” was added to the lists of chants. 

Protestors marched towards the Salt Lake District Attorney’s Office, where DA Sim Gill works. They stopped frequently and Alcala encouraged people to drink water and slow down to make sure no one was left behind. 

Protesters on bikes and motorcycles surrounded intersections to block traffic for protesters to walk. SLC COVID-19 Mutual Aid was there to hand out cold water and snacks.

One speaker, Tali— who wanted to keep her last name anonymous, detailed the history of police in America. She highlighted that it started out as a slave patrol and mentioned a few race riots, and the way it evolved leaves it too broken for reform, demanding abolition. 

“The hundred and 50 years of police reform is mountains of clear proof of the corruption, racism and of brutality exercised by the police,” she said. 

Once at the DA office, protesters began to plaster mass-produced posters by the Local Propagandists after the office had taken down their signs from a previous protest on June 24. 

Carlos Martinez of the SLC United Panther Movement spoke about coming together as a community. 

“We need to understand that when we’re examining state-sanctioned murder, torture, and modern-day slavery, we must point the finger at global capitalism and the fascist police state,” he said.

They then took to the streets in front of the office and dumped several buckets of red paint and protestors used rollers to spread it all over the street. Organizers said it was symbolic of the blood on Gill’s hands. 

Once the street was red and the building was covered in posters, protestors marched back to their starting spot. 

Chants changed from “Sim Gill, prosecute and jail these killer cops” to “Sim Gill, step down.” 

When they reached 900 S 300 W, Alcala thanked the crowd and emphasized that everyone there was family, and she has their backs. She then encouraged protestors to join an abolish ICE protest meeting at the Utah State Capitol. 

Palacios-Carbajal’s family is waiting for a decision from Gill on the case, and plan to hear from him by next week. The process typically takes 6 months. 

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This article has been updated with quotations and information from the Salt Lake County DA’s Office, as well as DA Sim Gill, regarding claims made by protestors about officers present at the shooting. No formal announcement has been made at this time. The article will be updated as new information is released.

This article has also been updated to reflect that Officer Masters was present at the scene of Cody Belgard’s murder, but may not have been the shooting officer.

This article has been corrected to reflect that Chad Breinholt and Darrion Hunt, previously included in the list of those killed by SLCPD, were not killed by the same officers. Instead, the article now reflects that Hunt was killed by the Saratoga Springs Police Department, and Breinholt was killed by the West Valley Police Department.