Protestors Gather Once Again to Demand Justice for Chad Breinholt and Bryan Valencia

By Natalie Colby, News Editor

The District Attorney Sim Gill’s office has been the meeting spot for many protests in the past couple of weeks, and on July 8 from 5 to 7 p.m. as protestors called for justice for Chad Brienholt and Bryan Valencia they met there again. 

Protesters began the night by posting signs created by queer-led printers—Local Propagandists—the signs read “Justice for Chad Brienholt” and “Justice for Bryan Valencia.” They also took posters out of the recycling bin, which had previously been thrown away by the district attorney’s office and taped them back on the building.

Breinholt was killed while handcuffed in police custody on Aug. 24, 2019. Before Breinholt was shot, the body cam footage revealed an officer audibly telling Breinholt, “You’re about to die, my friend.”

Valencia, a friend of Cody Belgard who was killed by Salt Lake City Police Department in 2018, was shot and killed by police on March 21, 2020. There is no body cam footage of the event.

According to organizers, Valencia told Belgard’s mother he thought police were going to kill him. 

The protest was put on by Utah Against Police Brutality, who shared their demand for community control now. 

The group supports a civilian police accountability council, which would create a democratically elected citizen review board that would give people power over the police. 

This is the vehicle to see a shift in power, to see people power over the police. This could be a vehicle, not only to control the police but it, not only demilitarizing the place, but it can be a vehicle to abolition,” said Carly Halderman, a member of UAPB. 

Repealing HB 415 is also on their list of demands. The bill restricts the ability to create citizen review boards.

The protest did not include marching but attendees heard from speakers from For the People SLC, Justice for Bernardo and statements were read from both Valencia’s and Brienholt’s families.

“The officer who shot Chad had two prior killings—Chad was his third. The officer did not fully assess the situation before shooting Chad. His first reaction was to kill, but not before taking the time to say ‘You’re about to die my friend,’ and then pulling the trigger at point-blank range,” Brienholt’s family wrote in a statement read by a member of UAPB.

“We need justice. It will be going on three months since Brian’s death without answers. His son needs answers and we all need peace,” Bryan Valencia’s family statement read.

In attendance were legal observers from both the ACLU and National Lawyers Guild, who were there to monitor any police activity. No police were in attendance at the protest. 

However, there was a confrontation between protesters and alleged medics who carried handguns. Protestors asked the alleged medics to leave, but the medics did not leave. 

Marvin Oliveros, a representative with Justice for Cody, spoke to the crowd about Sim Gill and Erin Mendenhall lip service to protests. 

“Erin Mendenhall presented with public pressure and public outcry in regards to police brutality locally and nationally. She takes the stance of political theater and takes a knee with protesters, where she has the real power to make calls,” Oliveros said. 

Protestors demanded all information be released to the families, and the officers involved in the cases be held accountable. Sim Gills released his report on July 9, announcing officers were justified in the killing of Bernardo Palacios. Family members of Brienholt and Valencia have not received a ruling on their cases. 

[email protected]

@lanavanna

[email protected]

@natalie__news