Four Years After Police Kill Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal, Family and Friends Gather to Remember Their Loved One

Salt Lake City, UT — Four years ago Salt Lake City Police shot and killed Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal, a 22-year-old man from Salt Lake City’s Rose Park neighborhood.

Protests erupted in the days after Palacios-Carbajal’s killing. Fueled by the nationwide outrage at George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis, which happened just two days after Bernardo was killed by police, Salt Lake joined the international uprisings against police and the violence they inflict, in part to demand justice for Bernardo.

Years later, while protests have waned, the family is still grappling with the trauma and grief of having lost Bernardo to police violence.

“Our family is so different. We struggle with depression, PTSD,” Karina Palacios-Carbajal, Bernardo’s older sister, told Unicorn Riot.

The pain of Bernardo’s sudden and violent death has impacted every part of their tight-knit family, Karina went on to say. His absence is felt at holiday gatherings, birthday celebrations, and in day-to-day life. But while they’re still mourning his death, his community is also focused on remembering his life.

This year, Bernardo’s family, with support from the Rose Park Brown Berets, organized an anniversary potluck in the Rose Park neighborhood, west of downtown Salt Lake City, to mark the date of Bernardo’s killing. Friends, family, and community members gathered at La Tiendita Market to share food and memories of Palacios-Carbajal, who would have been 26 years old.

Community members share food and drinks underneath a mural of Bernardo on Friday, May 29. Friends and family gathered on Salt Lake City’s west side to commemorate the four year anniversary of his death.

In the weeks after Bernardo was killed, while protesters took to the streets to demand justice for Palacios-Carbajal, Floyd and others killed by police, family members waited for clarity as the city slowly released more details about their loved one’s killing.

On June 5, 2020 Salt Lake City Police released body cam footage of the killing, which showed police firing dozens of shots at Palacios-Carbajal while he ran away from police, stumbling as he fled.

Police said they believed Bernardo was carrying a gun, and ordered him to drop it while they chased him. Multiple officers fired a total of 34 rounds as his back was turned. Bernardo was shot at least 13 times as he ran away. Police recovered a handgun that they say he had dropped and picked up several times during the chase.

Loved ones gather Friday at the site where Bernardo was killed by police on May 23, 2020 near downtown Salt Lake City.

A month later, on July 9, 2020 Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced that the city had found the shooting legally justified and did not bring charges against the two police officers – Neil Iversen and Kevin Fortuna – who shot Palacios-Carbajal to death.

Bernardo’s family then filed a civil suit against the officers and Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown. That case was dismissed in March 2022.

After gathering to share food and drinks on the anniversary, people traveled to the Fleet Block Murals, a public art installation featuring portraits of people killed by police in Salt Lake and beyond, to commemorate and remember Bernardo.

“Justice for Bernardo” signs decorate lamp posts and other fixtures on the corner of 900 South and 300 West, where Salt Lake City Police officers shot Bernardo to death.

Follow us on X (aka Twitter), Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, Mastodon, Threads, BlueSky and Patreon.

Please consider a tax-deductible donation to help sustain our horizontally-organized, non-profit media organization: supportourworknew