SALT LAKE CITY – A mother who says a Woods Cross police officer has a gun aimed at her 10-year-old son demands an independent investigation into the incident.
Jerri Hrubes said she plans to see a field office on Friday Agency look at the events that took place the previous afternoon when an officer in search of potentially armed suspects approached her son DJ while the boy was playing in the front yard. Hrubes sees the incident as a "clear prejudice" against her black son.
"I do not think it turned out yesterday what a typical 10-year-old expects or expects from a police officer," Hrubes said.
Woods Cross police failed to answer calls on Friday.
Members of the Hrubes family and two passers-by who witnessed the meeting said that the policeman stopped in front of the house, got out of his car, pointed a gun directly at DJ, and told him to step onto the floor.
According to Hrubes, the policeman then left without explaining her actions or her son. She says the officer returned later that day to apologize to the DJ and told the child, "I'm so sorry I pointed the gun at you."
Police have described the incident differently. A spokesman for the department said on Thursday that the officer was helping with a search for a high-speed hunt when he spotted a DJ in the yard and believed he could be involved. The department confirmed that the officer had pulled his gun out of the holster and kept it in the "ready" position, but said that he did not aim it at the boy's head and did not violate the protocol.
The department also said that DJ When the officer first asked him to step on the floor, he ran to the back of the house. Only when the policeman followed him through the house, the policeman pulled his gun out of the holster and believed that the boy could try to run or jump over the fence. When the officer discovered that DJ was younger than the suspect he was looking for, he put his gun away, the spokesman said.
As the white mother of a black son, I'm not sure West Bountiful anymore. That changed after yesterday. I do not think he's safe, that one of my children is safe. He did not take his eyes off me.
The speaker noted that the "stand-by position" for an observer might look as if the officer were pointing the gun at the child's head.
Hrubes and other witnesses say that DJ immediately put his hands in the air and sat down on the floor when asked to do so, and that the entire interaction had taken place in the front yard.
The department has no corpse camera shots of the interaction, a spokesman for the Woods Cross Police Department said Thursday.
The spokesman said that the officer in question was not subject to any disciplinary action as there were no violations of the protocol. He described the interaction as an "unfortunate situation" in which the child was "in the wrong place at the wrong time".
The Hrubes family is not satisfied with this reaction.
Hrubes and an attorney at Christensen & Jensen's Salt Lake City law firm announced Friday that the family is conducting an independent investigation of the officer's actions on Thursday and the department's response, and ̵
NAACP's Salt Lake Chapter and Mormon Women's Group for Ethical Government have also called for official investigations into the incident. Mormon Women for Ethical Government condemned the officer's "unsustainable" actions and the ministry's response in a statement on Friday calling for a "more comprehensive review of racial inequality in the Ministry's police standards."
Black Lives Matter Utah organizers have called for Woods Cross Police to immediately fire the cops and declare that "definitely" there are protests when the department does not say so. "He was in his front yard – if you can not be in your front yard and be sure where can you be?"
Hrubes stressed that she does not demand the dismissal of the officer at this moment. The family does not currently have any plans to file a lawsuit. Lawyer Christensen & Jensen said she has provided free family counseling since calling Hrubes.
"I support all police officers," said Hrubes. "But I do not support putting a child under pressure at gunpoint at the age of ten without explanation."
While living in Montana, the Hrubes family returns to Utah about once a month to allow DJs to receive medical treatment, Hrubes said. The 10-year-old, according to his mother, has ongoing medical needs. He is mentally handicapped and visually impaired.
Before the incident, Hrubes said, she had been thinking about retreating to her hometown West Abundant. The meeting on Thursday brought her to a rethink.
"As the white mother of a black son, I no longer feel safe in West Bountiful," said Hrubes. "That changed after yesterday, I do not think he's safe, one of my kids is safe, he has not left my sight, it just does not feel like it used to."