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Denton police release bodycam footage of officers killing Darius Tarver

Denton police release bodycam footage of officers killing Darius Tarver

Denton police release bodycam footage of officers killing Darius Tarver
March 05
18:14 2020

Warning: This video contains graphic footage of officers using lethal force on former UNT student Darius Tarver and contains explicit language. All wounds and sensitive information is blurred.

The Denton Police Department played bodycam footage and two 911 calls from a Jan. 21 incident when officers shot and killed former UNT student Darius Tarver during a press conference Thursday afternoon.

The video depicted officers finding Darius and first using nonlethal force to apprehend him, which failed to prevent him from approaching officers with a meat cleaver and frying pan. One officer was struck in the shoulder and required medical attention.

Darius’ father Kevin publicly called for the release of the video because of alleged inconsistencies with the police narrative that Darius’ was armed with a knife. Kevin appeared before City Council along with several supporters and his lawyer on Tuesday to request the video’s release.

Kevin watched a version of the video with officers and an a local pastor on Feb. 6, but Denton Police Chief Frank Dixon claimed Kevin walked out of the room before they finished the meeting.

City councilperson Deb Armintor also publicly advocated for releasing the footage in a Facebook post in support of Kevin earlier this month. Armintor spoke about police transparency at a protest for the footage organized by Kevin last weekend.

Dixon introduced the video and 911 calls, which were originally slated for release after a grand jury and Texas Rangers investigation that has not yet finished. Dixon said recent comments from Denton citizens and a city councilperson created a hazardous climate for officers and that he wanted to release the video before the situation “turned into civil unrest.”

“It’s been suggested that we’ve been delaying the release of this video because we have something to hide,” Dixon said. “That’s absolutely not the case.”

Dixon played 911 calls from a neighbor who saw Darius breaking lights and felt frightened, and Darius’ roommate, who ran to a nearby Chuck E. Cheese to escape Darius after he allegedly barricade their apartment with blankets and told his roommate not to leave.

The video, which Dixon played soon after, featured body camera footage from four separate officers at the scene. Officers tased Darius once when he approached them with a frying pan and knife, which is not initially visible. Darius immediately ran toward officers and swung his arms attempting to strike them but fell to the ground, dropping the pan and meat cleaver, which is visible underneath his head.

Throughout the altercation, Darius can be heard yelling “I’m not scared” and repeatedly mentioning God will protect him.

An officer fired a second taser shot toward Darius after he got up from the ground to pick up the frying pan, but neither attempt affected him enough for officers to restrain him. Darius came toward an officer with the pan until he was shot twice in the chest by the officer.

Officers addressed Darius’ two bullet wounds as he lay on the ground with a weak pulse. Medical responders took Darius and the officer he struck with the knife to the hospital.

Dixon said Darius showed signs of being under the influence of something “like PCP” during the incident and said officers “performed very admirably” using proper procedures. He could not comment on the existence of any toxicology reports due to ongoing investigations.

“We’re not going to allow people, no matter if it’s for your personal agenda or your political aspirations or even if you’re grieving, to say hateful things about our cops,” Dixon said. “They deserve better. We deserve better as a community to come together in times like this and not be fractured.”

Denton Mayor Chris Watts urged community members to be patient while investigators reviewed the Tarver case and said those calling for the release of footage risk compromising judicial proceedings.

“The risk to safety of our community and our officers was too great to continue to withhold this information,” Watts said. “We as a community mourn the lost of a young man and express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Darius Tarver.”

After the release of the video, Armintor said in a Facebook post that the video “is exactly what Kevin Tarver says he saw and heard.”

It’s what he sees over and over again in his mind day and night, every day,” Armintor said. “Now the public has seen it too. Now we get to take some of the burden off him and take it on ourselves.”

Armintor also said that she hopes a grand jury trial “yields a just result.”

“I don’t know what comes next, but I know it’s not over,” Armintor said. “I don’t know when we will hear the grand jury results or the results of the internal use of force investigation. Both proceedings are closed to the public and to the family. I continue to pray and push for peace, transparency, safety, and equality for all. And I continue to pray for the family and friends of Darius Tarver.”

Dixon is also set to speak tonight at 7 p.m. at a town hall at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church.

Featured Image: Denton Police chief addresses a press conference on the shooting of Darius Tarver on March 5, 2020. Police shot and killed Darius in January. Image by Carter Mize

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Carter Mize

Carter Mize

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2 Comments

  1. Tanya
    Tanya March 06, 10:25

    It appears to me as if they had plenty of opportunity to cuff him while he was tasered. It was not a one-on-one confrontation.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Dr. Jim
    Dr. Jim March 13, 11:21

    This video shows I was right to become a criminal defense lawyer.
    Count the cops surrounding the now one dead defendant. 5. Realize HOW THEY DO IT!
    1) They kill a petrified cook.
    2) Scared people are not rational.
    Okay. The Play is set. One fearful skinny black cook will be killed in Denton.
    Thank goodness I legalized marijuana. Remarkably, for three years, cop only killed one sick, murderous wacko.

    Reply to this comment

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