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Kevin Tarver, supporters speak at city council meeting, call for bodycam footage to be released

Kevin Tarver, supporters speak at city council meeting, call for bodycam footage to be released

Kevin Tarver, supporters speak at city council meeting, call for bodycam footage to be released
March 05
13:52 2020

UNT students, local activists  and supporters of the Tarver family came to Tuesday’s city council meeting to speak about the release of the bodycam footage of the fatal shooting of Darius Tarver and engage in a sit-in protest for Darius.

The UNT Black Student Union and the Denton County NAACP Legal Redress Team participated in the sit-in protest and people had the opportunity to speak at the beginning of the city council meeting.

Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney that represented Botham Jean’s family was the first speaker at the meeting.

“It is common for bodycam footage not to be released ahead of presentation to the grand jury by departments who are interested in protecting police involvement,” Merritt said. “It’s also common for those videos to be released by departments who have taken on a policy of transparency.”

He said that when Kevin Tarver watched the bodycam footage for the first time he had been denied legal counsel.

“That’s another really constitutional issue is that he [Kevin Tarver] was denied assistance of counsel when viewing the video. Individuals viewing an officer involved shooting obviously would benefit from the counsel that they hired to review the conduct for civil rights violations,” said Merritt, “They were denied that.”

Merritt has also said that he will not usually speak to the city council of various cities unless he believes he can compel the city council to follow the law and release the video.

“I think the District Attorney [Paul Johnson] has enough evidence to make a criminal indictment,” Merritt said. “I think it requires public pressure as his is a political office and elected office. It would take a significant sector of the Denton community to demand that he seeks an indictment on the officer.”

Brooke Roberson, BSU’s director of programming, was one of the students at the city council meeting.

“Today we decided to come because of the situation with Darius Tarver,” Roberson said. “The footage hasn’t been released. He didn’t have the meat cleaver, he didn’t stab a police officer nor did he attack them or charge at them. However, he was tased and shot repeatedly. Since the father was able to see the discrepancies, he’s wanting them to be released to the entire public as a way not to handle people who are suffering from mental health or mental illness.”

Roberson said that the family does not even know who the police officer is and that the Black Student Union wants to be able to prevent the situation from ever happening again.

Patrick Powers, 26, is a UNT alumni and teacher at Bettye Meyers Middle School. He lives in Lewisville but wanted to come to show his support.

“I’m here today because of justice,” Powers said. “I was informed of the incident by a bunch of people. My mother even called me concerned because I am a young black male of this community and she asked me if I knew him as well.”

Kevin Tarver, who did not want to interviewed at the City Council meeting, sat amongst the attendees and listened to every speaker during the meeting.

“As the father said, I could accept if that was the truth but that wasn’t,” Powers said. “I join forces today with people of all color today in search of the truth.”

Featured Image: Father of Darius Tarver, Kevin Tarver sits amongst attendees at the Denton City Council meeting held on March 3, 2020. Image by Bertha Angela Smith

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Bertha Smith

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