Utah Mom Demands Investigation After Officer Draws Weapon on Son
|thenorthstar||Jun 11, 2019|
A Utah mother is calling for an independent investigation after a Woods Cross police officer pointed a gun at her Black son’s head on June 6. The boy’s mother, who is white, said the officer was being racist when he confronted the boy at his grandmother’s front yard.
Jerri Hrubes told reporters on June 7 that her son, DJ Hrubes, was playing on his grandmother’s front lawn in West Bountiful, a neighborhood north of Salt Lake City, when he was approached by a white Woods Cross police officer. Jerri said the officer, who has not been identified, told the 10-year-old boy to place his hands in the air and get on the ground, according to the Associated Press (AP).DJ, who has vision issues and is developmentally delayed, asked the officer if he had done something wrong, only to be told not to ask questions. Jerri said at a press conference that she raced outside her mother’s home and yelled at the officer, “What are you doing? This is a 10-year-old child.”
She said the officer did not respond or apologize, but got into his patrol car and left. Jerri said that the officer also failed to explain what happened or tell the family about the potentially armed suspects in the area. She called 911 to report the incident and to file a formal complaint. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, she asked for two officers to come to the home to take her report. The officer who pointed the gun at DJ’s head returned hours later to apologize to the boy. Jerri said her son hugged the officer.
“I don’t think what transpired yesterday was what a typical 10-year-old should or would be faced with from a police officer, and more important, I support all police officers. I see the good in them. I support them in everything,” she told reporters.
However, she said that she believes the officer was more aggressive with her son because he is Black.
Jerri claimed that officers warned white children in the neighborhood about the potentially dangerous situation that was unfolding and ordered them to go inside their home, The Tribune reported.
His mother continued, “He committed the crime of being a child that’s Black, in a town where there’s not a lot” of Black people, according to KSL TV. “To me, it’s ignorance.”
The officer allegedly mistook DJ for a potential suspect while officers pursued two armed suspects during a “dynamic and unfolding” search, department spokesman Lieutenant Adam Osoro told The Tribune. According to Osoro, the officer pulled out his gun after DJ ran to the side of his grandmother’s home. Osoro claims the officer realized the boy was not involved in the case and left.
“We had minimal information at the time. We had one possibly Hispanic out on foot and we knew there was at least one other suspect involved. This kid was just in the area at the wrong time,” Osoro told FOX 13. The department does not have body camera footage of the incident.
The department defended the officer’s actions and said he “acted appropriately under the circumstances,” The Tribune reported.
“We sincerely apologize to DJ, his mother and any other family members who may have been traumatized by this event,” Wood Cross City Police said in a statement to The North Star.
Police said that policy does not require them to launch an investigation when an officer draws their weapon but does not discharge. However, the department said it wanted to “learn from this. We don’t want people to be traumatized by our efforts to protect the community.”
For transparency sake, the Wood Cross City Police said that it would ask the Davis County Attorney’s office to launch an independent review. “Woods Cross City takes all uses of force seriously and investigates them to the full extent according to policy and state law,” the statement added.
Jerri, who is from Montana and was visiting her mother in Utah, said the incident changed her outlook of her hometown of West Bountiful, a Salt Lake City suburb. “As a white mother to a Black son, I don’t feel safe in West Bountiful anymore,” she said, according to the AP. “That changed after yesterday. I do not feel that he is safe. He has not left my sight. It just doesn’t feel like it used to.”
NAACP Salt Lake has also called for an investigation into the incident and questioned why the officer’s body camera was not on. “The NAACP is concerned that precautions were not taken for the safety and well-being of this young boy. The NAACP is also concerned that training and good judgement [were] not considered when approaching this young boy,” the organization said in a statement, according to The Tribune.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.