North Texas Daily

FBI review of Darius Tarver case finds no civil rights violations

FBI review of Darius Tarver case finds no civil rights violations

FBI review of Darius Tarver case finds no civil rights violations
June 10
09:00 2021

The FBI Dallas Division completed its review of the Jan. 2020 shooting of university student Darius Tarver by a Denton Police Department officer. 

Alongside the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the FBI found that no civil rights violations of federal law occurred in the fatal shooting.

“The decision by the FBI and DOJ in no way minimizes the tragic loss of life, but pushes and compels us to work with our community more closely to keep our city safe, while doing so in a just, inclusive and equitable manner,” Denton Police Chief Frank Dixon said in a press release on May 27.

The FBI’s results mirror similar decisions made regarding the case earlier this year. In March, a Denton County grand jury issued a no-bill to an officer involved in Tarver’s death, meaning the officer would not be indicted. In April, DPD announced that the officer who fatally shot Tarver will not face disciplinary action after an internal investigation determined that department training, procedures and policies in place at the time were followed. 

“It’s really unfortunate, but honestly I can’t say I’m surprised because when I found out the FBI was going to be investigating, I thought it was the same thing as when the DOJ or local police department said they’ll investigate,” Tommy DeJesus, former Student Government Association Diversity and Inclusion Director, said. “It’s PR to give the illusion that there is something they’re doing. The system is not only flawed but created to marginalize people of color, specifically Black people.”

DeJesus has been involved in various memorial projects for Tarver and described ideas from art pieces to buildings named after Tarver. He said the university’s Black community will always honor Tarver in “one shape, way or form” and urged the rest of the Denton community to do so as well.

“The students dedicated an altar to Darius during Día de los Muertos last October, we know how much this means to them,” Multicultural Center Interim Director Shabaz Brown said. “The Multicultural Center is committed to supporting our students as they are still grieving this loss.”  

Brown said the Multicultural Center is available for any type of one-on-one meeting for students who want to come and talk. The center has also partnered with Counseling and Testing Services, which offers opportunities for individual and group support. Brown noted that a new sector of counseling, made specifically for diverse students, is working heavily over the next couple of months to offer students of marginalized identities resources for grief, mental wellness and safety.  

The North Texas Daily reached out to the greater university for comment and spoke with Associate Director of Reputation Management Leigh Anne Gullett. 

“[Tarver], his friends and family will always be in our hearts,” Gullett said. “However, the university won’t be making a statement about the FBI report. The FBI didn’t share any information with us, and we can’t speak to an investigation or review that didn’t involve us.”

Tarver, 23, was killed by police officers outside his apartment at the Forum at Denton Station complex on Jan. 21, 2020. Authorities said officers responded to multiple calls of someone acting erratically, banging on multiple doors and yelling for people to open them. According to Denton PD, Tarver had a frying pan and meat cleaver in his hands, did not obey commands and charged at officers after being tased.

Kevin Tarver, Darius’s father, disputed Denton PD’s account of the incident after watching the police body camera footage. A week before the incident, Tarver survived a car accident that put him in the intensive care unit. Tarver’s family, alongside other community members, believe he was suffering a mental health crisis related to the accident on the night of his killing.

“Four officers versus one young student in a mental health crisis could not get to safety, get him to mental health care,” Lee Merritt, the Tarver family’s lawyer, told WFAA. “Instead, they shot him to death.”

Featured Image: Darius Tarver’s mother, Froncella Reece, and older brother, Kevin Tarver Jr. at the vigil commiserating victims of police brutality that was held on the Denton Square on June 9, 2020. Image by John Anderson

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Ileana Garnand

Ileana Garnand

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