Jared Walker refused to attend his school's recent Officer Friendly assembly.
"He's not an Officer Friendly," Jared told his third-grade teacher. "There are no Officer Friendlys."Jared stopped believing in Officer Friendlys - and stopped wanting to grow up to be a police officer - when his dad was injured by a Salt Lake police officer last fall. Jared was 7 years old at the time. He had had his new dad - the first dad he had ever known - for two weeks at the time of the Sept. 13 confrontation with police.
Darin Walker began suffering a series of blackouts after the beating. In February, he not only blacked out, he stopped breathing and was rushed to a hospital by ambulance. Darin's employer laid him off after a blackout at work, telling him his spells made it dangerous for him to work around equipment.
Jared's mother - seven months pregnant with a baby Jared ardently hopes will be a brother - is the family's sole breadwinner now. But his mom is having serious complications with this pregnancy.
Jared's world doesn't feel safe any more. The ebullient youngster was severely abused by daycare providers when he was small. He had just emerged from two years of psychotherapy before his dad's confrontation with police. Since then, Jared's parents have watched him struggle anew with the anxiety and sense of powerlessness he battled after the abuse.
Jared's therapist warned the couple that the September incident may set Jared back in his struggle to trust his world again.
"Ever since we've been on TV, he's been frightened that the police are going to come and get us," said Becky Walker, Jared's mother.
After Darin was rushed to the hospital in February, Jared began pleading to be allowed to take a karate class offered through his school. The therapist told Becky that Jared's interest in karate may be his way of making his world safe again "because he is learning something that he feels is going to protect us," Becky said.
Two weeks into his karate classes, Jared dashed around the house in his karate shoes, talked about karate constantly and practiced every day. "I learned side kicks this week," he told the Deseret News.
He's frightened when he sees police. His parents work to abate that fear. Police and attorneys were gentle and sensitive when Jared's abuse case went to court, Becky said. They worked hard to keep Jared from having to give courtroom testimony, fighting to have his videotaped testimony admitted instead.
"I'm trying to get him to understand that there are good policemen," Becky said. But the healing takes time.
"He gave me one of his stuffed teddy bears two nights ago," Becky said. "He told me, `If you sleep with this, it will protect you.' "
When Jared goes to bed, he sleeps with a Puff the Magic Dragon toy.
If Officer Friendly can't protect him, maybe Puff can.
S.L. officer says use of force was warranted
Salt Lake police officer Dennis Huie who arrested Jared's father, Darin Walker - said the man resisted arrest and the use of force was warranted. A police union leader said the department cleared Huie of all wrongdoing in the incident and the case has been closed.
David Greer, president of the Salt Lake Police Union, said Huie's version of the incident varies greatly from the Walkers' version. He added that Huie had "clear-cut grounds for an arrest" when Darin Walker refused to tell police his name. Walker was arrested for obstructing an investigation and resisting arrest.