Racism, hate, and brutality towards anyone “other” have gotten worse in America, especially since Trump became our regrettable President. So it’s not surprising to see more cases of police using racial profiling, but what about against a 10-year-old child playing on his grandmother’s front lawn?
Utah resident, Jerri Hrubes, who lives in the small town of West Bountiful, above Salt Lake City, said her son D.J., 10, was playing on the front lawn of his grandmother’s home on the afternoon on Thursday afternoon, June 6. That’s when something unthinkable happened: Hrubes says an officer pulled over and pointed a gun at her son’s head. He pulled the gun even though D.J., who is black, responded to his commands.
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BET reported that D.J. has special needs and impaired vision.
Jerri Hrubes said her son, DJ, is also mentally delayed and has issues with his sight. https://t.co/tm22qX9Ti1
— BET News (@BETNews) June 10, 2019
Fortunately, Hrubes was there to intervene. She ran out of the house and confronted the officer. She says he wouldn’t give his name and got back in his patrol car and left.
“What are you doing? This is a 10-year-old child!” she screamed.
Hrubes added that her son had nothing in his hands, but the officer told D.J. to “put his hands in the air and get on the ground and told him not to ask questions.” Then he pointed the gun at his head.
Jerri Hrubes, mother of 10 year old boy DJ, says Woods Cross police officer pointed gun at her son’s head. Police reportedly say officer pulled gun, did not ‘necessarily’ point it at the boy. pic.twitter.com/DFWUP8N6km
— Brian Mullahy (@bmullahy2news) June 7, 2019
Woods Cross City Police Chief Chad Soffe says the officer’s body camera was turned off during the incident.
According to KUTV:
“The officer wore a body camera, but the chief said he did not have time to turn it on prior to the confrontation with the boy. Later, the officer returned to the home and apologized to D.J. Soffe said the office thought the 10-year-old may have been one of the suspects police were looking for. Quickly after pulling the gun, Soffe said the officer realized his mistake.”
Police Chief Soffe from Woods Cross apologizes to DJ Hrubes and his family after an officer pointed gun at 10 yr old DJ pic.twitter.com/juZVo2JJPC
— cristina flores (@Cristina2News) June 10, 2019
According to BET, D.J. forgave the officer.
“Hbrubes said her son doesn’t ‘have a mean bone in his body’ and is mentally delayed and has issues with his sight. After the officer apologized, D.J. said it was OK and gave the officer a hug.”
The officer was searching for armed suspects who fled police pursuit after reports of a shooting. Responding officers received “mixed reports of the suspects’ race and ethnicity, including that they were black, Hispanic or Polynesian.”
Only 1.4% of the population in Utah is African American.
“He did not violate any of our procedures or policies,” said Soffe.
In the press briefing, the police chief admitted the gun could have been pointed at the child.
Hrubes says she thinks the officer’s actions were racially motivated though she generally supports law enforcement.
“I support all police officers. I see good in them,” Hrubes said. “But I do not support putting a child of 10 years old at gunpoint with no explanation. . . Does he look like he’s 30? Does he look like he’s 18? No.”
“I don’t think what transpired yesterday was what a typical 10-year-old would be faced with,” Hrubes added.
“I just felt like he pointed the gun at me because of my skin color,” D.J. told KSTU.
According to BET, Hrubes identified the officer as Mike Daugherty, of the Woods Cross Police Department in a Facebook post.
See the mother’s response below:
According to CBS News, Soffe “defended the officer’s actions and said he mistook the boy for a potential suspect but used good judgment overall.” The police chief is refusing to conduct an investigation but rather is opting for an independent review which will rely on police testimony instead of witnesses on the scene.
“Our policy does not require an investigation when an officer draws but does not discharge his firearm. But we want to learn from this,” Soffe said in a statement sent to CBS News. “To be totally transparent and to alleviate some of the concerns that have been brought up, we are going to ask the Davis County Attorney’s office to provide an independent review.”
Now attorneys, the NAACP, and Black Lives Matter in Utah are coming to the family’s defense. Jerri Hrubes is calling for an investigation of the unnamed officer.
Although the officer returned to the home and apologized, she still feels unsafe in her home and worries about the safety of her son.
Kara Porter, an attorney representing the family, said:
“If it’s true that the justification to point a gun at this child is because they were told the suspects might be black, Hispanic or Polynesian, are they saying this officer was entitled to stop and point his gun at every male fitting that description?” said Kara Porter.
Meanwhile, Black Lives Matter in Utah is demanding the officer be fired. They are planning protests outside the police station and will file a complaint with the FBI’s civil rights division.
Lex Scott, a founder of the chapter, said:
“The fact that this police officer still has a job, and they’ve defended his actions, sends a message that any officer can go out, aim a gun at a 10-year-old kid, and that’s OK,” Scott said. “And that’s not OK to do.”
Another police agency involved in the search for the suspects said they wanted the community’s minorities to “feel safe and know that we value them in our community,” but one way they could do that is conduct a thorough investigation of the officer who pulled a gun on a child playing in the grass.
See more from ABC4 in Utah below:
Featured image: Screenshot via Twitter