A mother wants an independent investigation Friday after she says a Utah police officer pointed a gun at her 10-year-old son's head in what she calls a racially motivated incident. Jerri Hrubes said at a news conference that she saw a white Woods Cross officer pull his gun on her son, DJ Hrubes, who is black, while he was playing on his grandmother's front lawn Thursday.
She said her son didn't have any toys or objects in his hand. The officer told DJ to put his hands in the air and get on the ground, she said. When DJ asked the officer if he did something wrong, she said the officer told DJ not to ask questions.
Hrubes said she raced outside of the house and screamed at the officer, "What are you doing? This is a 10-year-old child."
She said the officer didn't respond and got in his car and left.
Hrubes said she called dispatch right away to complain about the officer's actions, and the officer returned to the house later in the day. She said he apologized and DJ hugged him and said it was OK. She said her son doesn't "have a mean bone in his body" and is mentally delayed and has issues with his sight.
She teared up recounting the encounter and said she's thankful she taught DJ growing up to heed the commands of officers.
"I support all police officers. I see good in them," Hrubes said. "But, I do not support putting a child of 10-years-old at gunpoint with no explanation. . . Does he look like he's 30? Does he look like he's 18? No."
She said she doesn't necessarily want the officer fired, but wants an outside review and has filed a formal complaint. She appeared alongside attorney Karra Porter at the news conference, but said she's not considering any legal action at this time.
Hrubes, who is from Montana, said she was visiting her mother in the town where she grew up: West Bountiful, a suburb of Salt Lake City. She said the incident changes how she feels in Utah, a state where African Americans account for just 1.4% of the state's population, according to U.S. Census figures.
"As a white mother to a black son, I don't feel safe in West Bountiful anymore," Hrubes said. "That changed after yesterday. I do not feel that he is safe. He has not left my sight. It just doesn't feel like it used to."
Lex Scott, founder of Black Lives Matter in Utah, said her organization is demanding that the officer be fired or they will protest outside the police agency's offices. She said the group also plans to file a complaint with the FBI's civil rights division.
"Holding a gun to the head of a 10-year-old will traumatize that kid for life," Scott said. "The only apology we will accept is if this officer is terminated."
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