Denton Police Chief Releases Body Cam Video in Officer-Involved Shooting of UNT Student

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A Denton police officer fatally shot a man in January who police say resisted a stun gun and continued to advance on police while refusing to drop a frying pan and a cleaver he was carrying.

Darius Tarver, 23, was a student at the University of North Texas.

Officers told Tarver that they were there to help him, Denton Police Chief Frank Dixon said, but he continued advancing their way. One of the officers pulled out a stun gun to try to immobilize the man, but after being hit by the device he immediately got up and continued moving toward the officers.

As Tarver got close, an officer pulled out a gun and shot him at least once. The man fell to the ground, police said, and officers began life-saving measures.

It was then, police said, they realized one of the officers had been slashed in the shoulder in the scuffle. That officer was hospitalized but released the following day.

A Denton police officer fatally shot a man in January who police say resisted a stun gun and continued to advance on police while refusing to drop a frying pan and a cleaver he was carrying.

The chief of police, mayor and city manager held a press conference Thursday afternoon to release 911 calls and officer body camera footage of the deadly confrontation.

The three leaders saying they had not released the video to not interfere with the ongoing investigation.

Chief Frank Dixon said the decision to release the footage was made because the community is at a ‘tipping point’ and he fears someone could get hurt.

“I can no longer standby and allow false and inaccurate information continues to foster in our community,” said Dixon.

Dixon walked the public through his officers’ actions that began with calls to 911 for help after a man began breaking lights and banging on apartment doors.

“I think he’s on something. I don’t know,” said a man to a 911 operator about his roommate Tarver.

That man, who was not identified, ran from their apartment to a restaurant and called 911 saying he’d never seen Tarver act that way before.

He said Tarver had been covering windows with blankets, appeared to have built a fort and would not allow him to leave their unit.

Four Denton police officers responded, each had a body camera on during the incident.

Officers believed their suspect might be under the influence of drugs, said Dixon and tried to talk him down.

“Our officers acted professionally,” said Dixon.

A neighbor is heard telling officers the man they were looking for has a ‘big knife.’

The body cam video later shows Tarver walking down the stairs and officers asking him to the object in his hands down or he would be tased.

The young man is heard repeating words to himself.

“We cannot allow him to go back upstairs,” said Dixon watching the interaction on camera. “We have not made contact with any of those residents to know what their status is.”

The 23-year-old is then tased and lunges forward.

An officer is seen kicking a meat cleaver away from the injured suspect.

But he gets back up with the frying pan, is tased again and lunges forward before being shot twice by the same officer.

Chief Dixon spoke to those who would question if a frying pan is really a threat.

“It was being used as an instrument of destruction,” he said. “Whether that’s a baseball bat, a metal pipe or a frying pan it can damage you all the same.”

Denton Fire-Rescue was called and Tarver was transported to an area hospital where he was pronounced deceased. Police said the injured officer was also hospitalized and was listed in stable condition with injuries that were not life threatening.

Tarver's family wants the body camera video of the incident released.

“I was willing to accept it if what they said was true, but if what they said wasn't true, then I had to be a voice for my son, and that's why we're at where we're at now,” said Darius’ father Kevin Tarver.

Kevin Tarver is a pastor and chaplain for the McKinney Police Department.

Results of a toxicology report will go straight to the Texas Rangers which is the lead investigative unit in this case.

The officer who fired all three shots is a six year veteran on the force who has not been involved in a previous officer involved shooting, according to Dixon.

The officer is back on duty pending the results of criminal and internal investigations.

Thursday night, Chief Dixon held a community town hall to discuss the case. A few dozen Denton residents attended.

"It's not about who's right or who's wrong, it's about the truth," one woman said.

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