The Dallas Morning News

No discipline for officers in fatal shooting

Family says UNT student armed with frying pan, knife had suffered head injury

- By KELLI SMITH Staff Writer Twitter: @Kellismith­news

Officers involved in the fatal shooting of University of North Texas student Darius Tarver last year will not face disciplina­ry action, the Denton Police Department announced Thursday.

The decision comes after an investigat­ion to determine whether department­al policies were followed in the Jan. 21, 2020 shooting, police said.

“This decision does not minimize the tragic events of that night, which resulted in the death of Darius Tarver,” the department police said in a prepared statement.

Tarver, 23, was shot after residents of an apartment complex in the 200 block of Inman Street told police a man was banging on doors and smashing light fixtures.

Body-camera footage showed Tarver holding a cleaver and a frying pan as he approached four officers who were trying to get him to come down from a second-floor landing.

Tarver ignored repeated commands to drop the items and continued to approach. One officer fired a Taser at him, which caused him to drop the frying pan. Tarver then cut an officer on the shoulder with the knife.

An officer then shot Tarver, knocking him to the ground. He got back up and continued to approach police, despite being stunned with a Taser again. An officer then fired two more shots.

Officers tended to Tarver’s wounds while waiting for an ambulance. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Tarver’s parents have repeatedly called for justice in the case, saying that their son acted erraticall­y because of a recent traumatic brain injury and that officers improperly used deadly force. The family was represente­d by civil rights attorney Lee Merritt.

Denton police Chief Frank Dixon has countered that the officers were clearly under threat.

A Denton County grand jury declined a month ago to indict the officer who fatally shot Tarver.

The officer, whose name has not been released, remained on administra­tive duty while the department’s internal investigat­ion was conducted.

Authoritie­s said Thursday the department unanimousl­y decided not to discipline the officers who were at the scene after leadership evaluated the investigat­ion’s findings.

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