Woods Cross police keep changing story about officer who pulled gun on child, attorney says

Chief apologizes, says he'll ask county attorney to review the incident

Return To Article

Commenting has temporarily been suspended in preparation for our new website launch, which is planned for the week of August 12th. When the new site goes live, we will also launch our new commenting platform. Thank you for your patience while we make these changes.

  • Tumbleweed Centerville, UT
    June 15, 2019 12:39 a.m.

    Ask 5 people who saw the same traffic collision and you'll be amazed at how differently they all perceived it. Does that mean that 4 different eye witnesses are lying? Of course not. For anyone to call this officer a liar under these circumstances is absurd if not immoral.

  • rexwhitmer , 00
    June 13, 2019 1:23 p.m.

    One comment. The kid's lucky this didn't happen to him in Chicago! With as many persons shooting at police officers these days, he'd be a fool to not have drawn his weapon. I was a police officer for two years while I went to college. My weapon never left it's holster in all that time other than Qualifying or cleaning. In those days, they mostly didn't shoot police officers!

  • mrjj69 Bountiful, UT
    June 12, 2019 9:51 p.m.

    An independent investigation is certainly warranted. County sheriff, state police, etc. Also, since a firearm was involved, a civilian review board should be considered. That process could have been streamlined, had the officer activated his body camera.

  • Andy_Barton Tooele, UT
    June 12, 2019 11:47 a.m.

    He "matched the description" of one of the suspects? DJ is 4'7". The average height in the U.S. is 5'9". Perhaps in the country where everyone is a foot shorter the officer would have been justified, but not in this one. In this country what the officer did was wrong and he should face some sort of punitive action from the police department for violating protocol by drawing his gun on an unarmed 10-year-old without having his body cam on.

  • abrady murray, UT
    June 12, 2019 11:11 a.m.

    @mohokat. If the shooter had been described as a 10 year old CHILD your point about shooters being a child might make sense, that has never been the case here.

    With regard footage of the steering wheel, wouldn't we rather have too much footage than have it missing I this case?

    With regard to having nothing on the line, it seems like in this case anyone with children has something on the line and we should all be concerned.

    I cannot understand why we would be critical of those questioning the police and saying those are armchair quarterbacks. The every heroes that protect us every day are still people and can make mistakes. If we continue as a community to ignore those and consider anyone infallible we put our communities, government and society at risk.

  • mohokat , 00
    June 12, 2019 7:28 a.m.

    Let's see there are no shootings that the shooter is a kid. Right?

    Body cam on all the time. Yup we need to see more action of the steering wheel of the cop car while the officer is driving around.

    There ar a lot of comments here from arm chair quarterbacks who have never been on the line other than a dodgeball game in grade school.

    Experts galore. No real players.

  • Ron55 Centerville, UT
    June 12, 2019 5:08 a.m.

    @a_voice_of_reason "Did race play a role? Yes - because the boy was black he was one of few locals that matched the suspect's description. Was a gun pointed at him because the officer was racist and values him less as a human being? Absolutely not."

    The child is 4'7". That doesn't fit the description of the suspect. The officer should be trained to look at more than race when distinguishing between individuals. Unless the suspect was described as a child or a little person, this boy did not fit the description.

  • Ron55 Centerville, UT
    June 11, 2019 8:36 p.m.

    @Zabilda I find it unlikely that a 10 year old boy could fit the rough description of a dangerous adult. If the officer can't distinguish between a black child and a black adult, perhaps facial recognition training would be helpful.

  • Utahnareapeculiarpeople Salt Lake City, UT
    June 11, 2019 1:08 p.m.

    ""I'm not going to stand here and second-guess the actions of my officer. It's a tough thing," he said."

    That's great. Now get the checkbook out . . .

  • abrady murray, UT
    June 11, 2019 12:07 p.m.

    @Zabilde-according to original reports none of the suspects were reported as black, and as far as I now none were described as 10 year old (4’7” tall). Maybe that should be investigated. Also, protocol does not call for pointing a gun at the head, and all but the officer describe this as what happened. Also, he was in his yard the whole time according to witnesses.

    @UtahBlueDevil-“actions were not overt”, I don’t see how that is relevant based on the officer’s bias he victimized and traumatized a CHILD.

    @Tumbleweed-“the risk of dying should be on the suspect”. How did an innocent 10 year old CHILD become a “suspect” only because he was black, and now has a higher burden than a trained police office? We should be grateful for the sacrifices of the brave men and women who serve our community. We should also hold them accountable if they make a clear mistake? Why isn't WXPD willing to “investigate” when multiple witnesses was something different than the police office.

    @a_voice_of_reason-“everyone is making a big deal”. Yes, and we should! This is a clear case of racial bias and unless we decide it is unacceptable and hold people accountable things will never change.

  • abrady murray, UT
    June 11, 2019 11:29 a.m.

    the title of the story is very telling, there have been multiple descriptions of the incident from the police. First the CHILD ran around back of the house and that is when the office followed and pulled the gun. Then the officer never went onto the property itself. Then the office saw the child running away from the street.

    However, the family and the witnesses have one story, the CHILD was playing in his yard and the police office pulled his gun and pointed it at the CHILD's head.

    Then the administration of the police department rally's behind the officer and refuses to "investigate" what happened stating there was not violation of protocol. That is based on the officer's version of not pointing the gun at the CHILD'S head which one individual states is what happened and multiple witnesses say is what happened.

    We will never make any progress in dealing with human bias against Black people in America if we do not face the problems as they arise. We cannot deny the issue, and pretending they don't exist and don't affect officers of the law is only going to perpetuate the oppression of our Black and minority neighbors and friends.

  • a_voice_of_reason Woods Cross, UT
    June 11, 2019 10:45 a.m.

    Ultimately, I think everyone is making a big deal of an unfortunate incident. A young boy and his family were horrifically frightened by an officer pointing a gun at him. That said, the officer was responding to a call to find a fleeing, violent suspect. He went where the suspect was seen. Within a few hundred feet he saw an individual who was part of about 1% of the local population that matches the suspect's description. Upon discovering it was not the suspect, he told the family what to do to stay safe. After the intensity of the moment passed, he returned and apologized for the unfortunate, frightening incident.

    Did race play a role? Yes - because the boy was black he was one of few locals that matched the suspect's description. Was a gun pointed at him because the officer was racist and values him less as a human being? Absolutely not.

    I think it's worth reviewing the incident to see if there are things we can learn and improve on. But, calling for the officer to be fired is insane in my mind - his actions are understandable (even if unfortunate) in the context of the situation. What can we learn and improve should be the path forward.

  • Liberal Mormon Salt Lake City, UT
    June 11, 2019 9:53 a.m.

    Very glad this CHILD is still alive.

    When I was a child, do you know how my mom knew I was lying about something? I changed my story. Looks like the Woods Cross police aren't being forthright here. It's not rocket science. Those with the knee-jerk reaction to defend police simply because they are the police have to do some serious self reflection. Honesty and the truth are more important than loyalty to authority. When will we learn?

  • Thomas Jefferson Salt Lake City, UT
    June 11, 2019 8:07 a.m.

    "A Woods Cross officer driving with his lights and siren on saw a black male running toward the street"

    A black male 10 year old CHILD.

    "The officer did not activate his body camera during the encounter with the boy, police said."

    How is this possible? These cameras should always be on.

    "Woods Cross police in earlier statements did not say any of the suspects were black. "

    Isnt there a recording of all communications? This should be easy to find out what wasy said.

    "Members of the Hrubes family and two passersby who saw the encounter have said the officer pulled up in front of the house, got out of his car, pointed a gun at DJ's head"

    But I am sure we will just believe the cop because...cop.

    "The officer, Soffe said, did not violate any of the department's policies and responded in accordance with police protocol and training. He described the officer as a seasoned veteran and he remains on duty."

    Well then your policies are deficient.

    Soffe: "I'm not going to stand here and second-guess the actions of my officer. It's a tough thing," he said.

    And yet that is EXACTLY your job.

    Todays police seem to be perpetually frightened. They view the public as 'them'.

  • UtahBlueDevil Alpine, UT
    June 11, 2019 7:42 a.m.

    I get it. When you live in a place that is over 90% homogeneous, and they say one of the suspects is ethnic, and you pass by someone who is ethnic, and its the same general area, its almost reasonable for that person to stand out.

    But had the call been made that the suspects were white, and the officer drove by a house where a white ten year old was playing in their yard, most people would find it unreasonable that officer believed the kid was one of the suspects, and drew a gun on the kid.

    I don't believe the officers actions were overt. But it points to some of the challenges ethnic people face in a very homogeneous area. When a white person commits a crime, not all white people are under heightened scrutiny. But when an ethnic person commits a crime, an entire community becomes nervous. Most people would not mistake a 10 year old for an adult sized person. But in this case, skin color became the most distinctive feature... not age, what they were wearing, height, estimated weight, hair style, .... but skin color.

    Not blaming the officer - but its a fact of not being "white" in Utah. Glad he apologized.

  • Zabilde Riverdale, UT
    June 11, 2019 5:34 a.m.

    The officer did follow protocol, he had a description of a black suspect wanted in a shooting. That means the officer had to be concerned about the suspect being armed. This is Bountiful, and the fact is there are not many African Americans in that city. So he see's someone who roughly fits the description. He pulls over and asks the individual to stop. The kid starts to run...

    Fits the rough description, and first response is to run... is possibly armed and dangerous. What do you do?

    You draw your firearm and command the individual to stop, as the officer did. You keep your weapon at the low ready as you approach the now compliant individual. You now see it's a kid and immediately holster your weapon as the officer did and he apologized on the spot before moving on to search for the still at large gunmen.

    Yes he forgot to start his camera, or he hit the rec button and it didn't take. Dave & Dujanovic talked about how easy it is as a professional cameraman to fail to start recording in the heat of the moment.

    He later came back and apologized again.

    He followed protocol and he did it right. What the mother thought she saw from a different angle is not relevant.

  • Tumbleweed Centerville, UT
    June 10, 2019 11:11 p.m.

    I'd rather see the officer prepared to shoot and alive than unprepared to shoot, politically correct and dead. That's what happened to Officer Barney - died with his gun in his holster. If we keep putting officers through this kind of scrutiny after adrenaline-filled potentially deadly moments, we will soon not have any applicants to fill their positions. The good news is that this 10 year old with "mental delay" had the good sense to immediately follow the officer's commands. Those older with no developmental issues have no excuse. The risk of dying should be on the suspect; not the police officer simply doing his job.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    June 10, 2019 7:17 p.m.

    "The officer, Soffe said, did not violate any of the department's policies and responded in accordance with police protocol and training"

    No. Protocol and training say that you activate your body cam. Something is very wrong here. The truth will come out and it wan't be in favor of the officer and the chief. There's national attention on this and it's not going away. Probably, both the chief and the cop should resign (or "retire"). The cover up is worse than the action.