DPS trooper under fire for his response to a child shot and killed in Tempe

Witnesses are asking why it took so long for a DPS trooper to provide medical help to a 5-year-old boy as he sat inside a car that was riddled with bullets.
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 8:57 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A DPS trooper sworn to protect is now facing accusations of continuing a traffic stop while witnesses yell for his help. Witnesses are asking why it took so long to provide medical help to a 5-year-old boy as he sat inside a car that was riddled with bullets. The young boy died while two other injured children are already out of the hospital.

The videos were taken by two men who record law enforcement to hold them accountable. They just happened to be there filming a trooper during a traffic stop near 52nd street and Broadway Friday night, but within moments a separate scene began taking place just feet away from the original scene.

The interaction between ‘cop watchers’ and the trooper begins while that trooper is conducting a traffic stop. But just before midnight Friday, it becomes a chaotic scene as a black sedan is seen in the middle of the roadway. One witness can be heard in the video saying, “Hey, we got an accident over here, road rage over here, officer! We got something going down over there.” The car horn can barely be heard in the video, but Scott Jacobs says it’s what caught his and other witnesses’ attention. “We witnessed at least 4 or 5 individuals step out and immediately start to scream and holler for assistance,” he said.

Once witnesses make their way to the car, they find a little boy and his sister inside. “There’s a gunshot in the window, we need the cop!” said another witness in the video. A bullet struck a little boy; unfortunately, he was later pronounced dead. “Hey! Call an ambulance, call the ambulance. Officer we have a kid down. Officer we have a kid down in the back seat,” Darrien Barrett said in the video.

In an interview with Arizona’s Family, he said he was discouraged to see how the trooper responded to his pleas for help. At one point, the trooper could be heard telling Barrett to step in when Barrett mentioned the incident and tried to bring it to the trooper’s attention. “They have the medical experience, they’re trained for that. I’m not, I’m not a medical professional at all. One false move to moving anyone with a gunshot wound to the head is detrimental,” Barrett said.

Darren Burch is a former Phoenix Police Sergeant with 30 years of experience.” I was concerned when I first heard it because you’re listening to the narration and you don’t get a feel for where anyone is,” he said.

He watched the video with Arizona’s Family and walked us through how law enforcement is trained to react. “When he’s actually giving him true information about a shooting, that’s when the officer immediately responds. You can see the officer is radioing the information in. He had every due diligence and be concerned and radio things in before he runs blindly into a situation,” Burch said.

He believes the trooper responded in a timely manner. “Based on the time he’s actually approached and told that there’s a child left abandoned, he spends maybe a minute and change getting to the scene,” he said.

In situations like this, Burch says law enforcement faces several safety issues and feels the trooper acted with some awareness and caution to a possible ambush. “Anytime an officer has to be aware of a with an ambush is his attention being diverted, if your attention is over here, somebody is trying to divert you somewhere else, possible ambush. If you’re by yourself and there’s a crowd gathered, possible ambush. An impromptu appearance possible ambush,” he said.

Ultimately, Jacobs feels reactions like Burch’s are far too common. “The problem with another cop investigating another cop is that they always investigate themselves and find that they did nothing wrong,” he said.

Burch says when someone in law enforcement is notified someone is hurt, they legally have a duty to respond.

DPS provided the following statement: