A Utah police chief has issued a public apology and promised an independent review will be conducted after one of his officers held a ten-year-old visually and mentally impaired black child at gunpoint.
"First, we’d like to sincerely apologize to DJ and his mother," Woods Cross Police chief Chad Soffe said at a press conference on Monday. "We are truly sorry."
DJ Hrubres, who is developmentally disabled and visually-impaired, was playing on his grandmother's front lawn last Thursday when an officer with the Woods Cross Police Department pulled up and demanded that he put his hands in the air, get on the ground and not ask any questions. When DJ's mother, Jerri Hrubes, came out and confronted the officer, he returned to his car and left, according to WIS-TV.
Soffe defended the officer's actions who mistook the 10-year-old child for a potential suspect who had fled following a police pursuit and reports of a shooting. Soffe said the officer in question would not face any disciplinary action and had agreed to the independent review of his actions.
"He did not violate any of our procedures or policies, and we are not looking at termination of this officer, who is a seasoned veteran," said Soffe.
At the time of the incident, the officer had been searching for some armed and dangerous subjects who were accused of a shooting in Centerville, Utah last week. The suspects were said to be black males.
"Our officer draws his gun and gives commands for the young man to get on the ground, thinking this is one of the suspects we are looking for," said Soffe.
Witnesses said they saw the officer pointing his service weapon at the ten-year-old's head, a charge Soffe did not deny.
"When he went down to the ground, the low ready position is forward at about a 45 degree angle, so as he went to the ground, yes, it could have been pointed at him. But it is not our training to point our guns at anyone’s head," Soffe said.
DJ's mother, Jerri Hrubes, who is white, told WIS-TV that she believes the incident was racially motivated and demonstrated a "clear prejudice." She also says the officer returned later that night to apologize for his actions. Hrubes says she doesn't necessarily agree that the officer should be fired and would be satisfied with an independent review of his actions.
The officer's body camera was not active at the time of the incident according to authorities. The case is scheduled to be forwarded to the Davis County District Attorney's Office for review.