DENTON, Texas - Family members are questioning Denton police about the fatal shooting of a 23-year-old University of North Texas student. They believe body camera video of the shooting contradicts the official narrative.
Darius Tarver was shot and killed by Denton officers in January after he reportedly ignored commands, advanced and stabbed an officer.
Police said neighbors called 911 because he was behaving erratically at his apartment complex near campus at 3 a.m. He was banging on doors to try to get into apartments, smashing lights with a frying pan and quoting scriptures.
But Tarver’s father, Kevin, who is a chaplain with the McKinney Police Department, said the body camera video from that night appears to show a confused kid who was having a mental issue. He claims his son never charged at officers.
“He wasn't being violent, he wasn't being confrontational. He stopped at the end of the stairway where there was multiple officers, 4-5 officers standing around. And from my viewpoint, these officers were already threatened by someone that had no threat toward them,” Kevin Tarver said.
Kevin Tarver wonders if serious car crash his son survived just a week before his death was responsible for his behavior. He believes his son suffered a traumatic brain injury and was released from the hospital too soon.
Kevin Tarver said his son had unscrewed all the lights in his apartment before the incident.
“Police were called when Tarver was observed breaking overhead lightbulbs with a skillet. This behavior was consistent with the extreme sensitivity to light and difficulty with impulse control resulting from a severe impact to the brain,” said Lee Merritt, an attorney for the family.
McKinney Mayor George Fuller was at a news conference with Tarver’s family and their attorney Tuesday afternoon. He said he supports justice and the truth and called for a full investigation into the Denton Police Department’s officer-involved shooting.
“This is a travesty to see what happened to this child, this could've been anyone's child,” Kevin Tarver said. “I am pro-police, I'm also pro-justice and these two are not in conflict with one another. This is about transparency vs. suppression.”
Denton PD said it is working with the Texas Rangers on the case and there is an open internal affairs investigation to determine if the use of force was appropriate.
The department said it would not comment further until after the Rangers present their findings to a grand jury.
“The death of Darius is tragic for all involved, including our community at large. Our collective hearts go out to the Tarver family, as well as friends and students at the University of North Texas,” Denton PD said in a statement.