SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, June 7, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — The mother of a 10-year-old boy who says her son was held at gunpoint by a Woods Cross Police officer Wednesday is calling for a police investigation of the incident.
Jerri Hrubes, who is white, says her adopted son D.J., who is black, was approached Thursday by an officer who had his pistol drawn and aimed at the boy’s head.
The child, who is short for his age, is also mentally disabled and has double vision. He has multiple surgeries for tumors behind his eyes, and had surgery last week, his mother said.
When D.J. did not respond to the officer’s command immediately, the situation escalated, Hrubes said.
Karra Porter, a representative from Black Lives Matter — Utah, said she helped Hrubes arrange the news conference to save time, talking to many reporters at once.
Hrubes began by talking about her son.
“We were just coming back from Primary Children’s. D.J. has medical delays and also has sight disabilities, so it’s ongoing,” she said. “He had a transplant last year and he had surgery last Friday. His sight is good, but he has double vision.”
Hrubes was with other family members at her mother’s house, in the West Bountiful/Woods Cross area when those inside began to hear sirens, she said.
“D.J. was playing on the front yard of my mother’s home, and our door was cracked open because it was hot, and the windows were open, and me and three other witnesses that are adults that were relatives were in the living room,” she said.
“The first thing I heard was lots of police cars, and I just thought there must be a fire or something, because there’s so many fire trucks, until I heard something in the front yard.
“And I heard and saw with my own eyes with D.J. standing in the front lawn, playing, with no toys in his hands, nothing in his hand, and an officer had a pistol pointed at his head and was telling him ‘You need to put your hands up in the air.’
“And D.J.’s exact words, ‘Did I do something wrong? What did I do?,’ and the officer said, “Don’t ask questions, put your hands up in the air and get on the ground.”
Hrubes said she had always taught her children to respect and obey police officers.
“And I’m very thankful that he was smart enough to know that is what we should do with cops, is we should respond to their commands because they are there to help us. That’s what he’s been taught. So he immediately went from his standing position to putting his arms in the air.
“And when I saw that, I came flying out of the house, and the gun pointed to my son’s head, as most mothers would do, I was very in awe. I could not believe that that was pointed at a 10-year-old child.
“I believe it’s because my child is BLACK!!!!” Hrubes wrote in a now deleted post.
Hruve believes it would be hard to mistake her child for an adult fleeing police.
“He (D.J) is very short and it’s very noticeable that he is a child, and I ran out of the door and I put my hands in the air and screamed to the police officer, ‘What are you doing? This is a 10-year-old child.’ I received no response. I asked for his name. I asked for anything from him, and nothing was given, and he got in his car and he fled away.”
Hrubes said she and others in the house were unaware that officers were looking for armed suspects who had fled a police chase. She found out later that a white had been warned. Hrubes brought up the discrepancy, but stopped short of saying it might be race related.
“After the incident, when he (the officer) left, I immediately called dispatch in West Bountiful, and I went to report, and I said to dispatch and I said ‘My son, my 10-year-old child was just held at gunpoint, and I’m not OK with that. I want to file a formal complaint against the police officer.'”
Hrubes said she has witnesses who can confirm what happened, and that she specifically asked for two officers to be sent.
“And I’m not sure how long later an officer came, but it was the officer that had a pistol pointed to my son’s head,” she said.
Hrubes said she later learned the officer was Sgt. Mike Daugherty, Woods Cross Police Department veteran.
“And he was on the property, and he came up the front steps and he saw D.J., and he said (the) exact words to him, his exact words, he said to D.J., ‘I am so sorry that I pointed my gun at you.’ And D.J., the little boy that he is, gave the police officer a hug and told him, ‘It’s OK.’ And he hugged him.”
As she recounted the incident to reporters, Hrubes became choked up, and struggled to compose herself for several seconds before she began to speak again.
“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 importantly, I support all police officers. I see good in them. I support everything. But I do not support putting a child of 10 years old at gunpoint with no explanation back to me.”
Hrubes said one news agency had reported that the police chief had spoken to her, but that never happened.
“To this point now, I still have not received any calls from any police officers,” she said, adding “It said that the chief of police had talked to me. That has not happened.”
“I want an investigation. I want a formal complaint. I don’t think that was proper to do to a 10-year-old child. He had nothing in his hands. He had nothing. He was playing in the front yard.”
Porter said what is needed is an independent investigation, which should be conducted by an agency other than the Woods Cross Police Department.
Hrubes returned to the podium, answering a reporter’s question about whether she wanted the officer fired. She said she was not calling for that, just an independent investigation. She asked the reporter if he had children.
“I don’t think any father or mother would have acted any differently when a cop has a gun on your 10-year-old kid,” she said.