Unjustly Taken: the Tragic Death of Darius Tarver at the Hands of Denton Police Officers
At just 23 years old, Darius Tarver tragically lost his life at the hands of the police. Concerned neighbors had called for help, hoping to ensure his wellbeing. However, instead of providing the assistance he desperately needed, four Denton Police officers responded by using a taser and shooting him, leading to his untimely death.
Darius was recovering at home from a severe head injury that required medical attention. When his neighbors reached out to the Denton Police Department to check on him, they expected help. Instead, they dispatched four officers who used excessive force, resulting in Darius’s tragic end. Shockingly, none of these officers have faced disciplinary action, and all continue to serve in active duty.
On January 21st, this devastating incident unfolded at Darius’s apartment. The Denton Police officers, who were experienced and equipped with militarized gear, responded to the call made by one of Darius’s neighbors. Despite his urgent need for medical attention following a near-fatal car accident the week before, the officers failed to provide the necessary aid. Instead, they cornered Darius, tased him, and shot him multiple times, ultimately taking his life.
Darius’s father, a police department chaplain, had the distressing experience of viewing footage of the incident before its public release. He believes that the video contradicts the narrative put forth by the police. The Denton Police Department exhibited aggression towards Darius, despite his evident need for medical care. They deployed the taser and used lethal force against him, claiming that he appeared to be preparing to attack, even though he was standing still. The officers had multiple opportunities to safely apprehend Darius, but they opted for unnecessary and deadly force.
Rather than a wellness check conducted by a mental health professional, a young student in desperate need of assistance encountered violence and threats. Darius Tarver had a promising future ahead of him. He excelled academically at the University of North Texas (UNT), being on the dean’s list and set to graduate with a major in criminal justice in the upcoming spring. He aspired to pursue a career in law enforcement. Despite his critical condition, the four veteran Denton Police officers unjustly took his life instead of offering aid.
It took weeks of persistent demands from his father, Kevin Tarver, and community leaders for the Denton Police Department to release the footage of the incident. Even with the carefully controlled presentation of evidence by Police Chief Frank Dixon, it remains evident that the DPD officers needlessly escalated what should have been a welfare check. Shockingly, all officers involved in Darius Tarver’s killing have resumed regular duty and are back patrolling the streets. Furthermore, Denton County District Attorney Paul Johnson has disregarded the calls for transparency and accountability from the family and the community regarding this case. The time for change is long overdue.