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Denton County jury declines to indict officer involved in shooting of UNT student

Darius Tarver, 23, was shot and killed by police officers on Jan. 21 outside of his apartment in Denton. Police released bodycam footage of the incident.

DENTON, Texas — Updated at 3:48 p.m. Friday to include statements from Darius's father and the family lawyer.

A Denton County grand jury issued a no bill Thursday in relation to the police shooting death of a college student in January 2020.

Darius Tarver, 23, was shot and killed by police officers on Jan. 21 outside his apartment at a student apartment complex in Denton. Police told WFAA that the night of the incident officers responded to calls of someone acting erratically at the apartment complex Forum at Denton Station on Inman Street. 

The Denton County District Attorney's Office notified the Denton Police Department Thursday.

Darius's family said Thursday that they had not heard about the grand jury's decision until WFAA contacted them. The family's lawyer, Lee Merritt, said they were shocked and disappointed at the decision.

The police department said the involved officer remained on administrative duty pending the outcome of the internal investigation, which will conclude in the next 30 days. It will determine whether training and department policies were followed, the department said.

Just one week before his death, Darius had survived a bad car accident where family told WFAA the roads were icy that day. The crash put him in the ICU and he was released from the hospital the next day. 

Police said Darius had a frying pan and a meat cleaver in his hands, didn’t obey commands and slashed an officer’s uniform.

On Friday, Darius's father Kevin and Merritt discussed the no bill decision from the grand jury.

Merritt said the police department should've handled it differently because Darius was in a mental health crisis.

"Four officers versus one young student in a mental health crisis could not get to safety, get him to mental health care," Merritt said. "Instead they shot him to death."

Kevin, who worked as a police chaplain in McKinney, said there was has been a lack of transparency. He said on the day he learned of Darius's death, he heard two different narratives from Denton police and the Texas Rangers who investigated it.

The bodycam footage was released by Denton police more than a month after the incident. Kevin said that it showed that his son didn't threaten officers.

"These officers did not do what should be required, they may have done what they were trained to do," Kevin said. "If what they were trained to do was to kill, then we have a problem."

The family shared concerns that Darius's release may have been too early and the family worried the accident changed him.

RELATED: 'I will never hear his voice again': Parents of UNT student killed by police react to the body camera footage

The night of the shooting, multiple people called 911 saying a man was banging on numerous doors and yelling for people to open them up. 

Authorities said Darius ignored the officer's commands and charged at officers after being tased. 

An officer was stabbed during the confrontation but was treated and released from the hospital, police said.

Reporter Morgan Young contributed to this report.

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