Man claims cops threatened to shoot his 7-year-old in viral post
State police in Arizona are calling a man "irresponsible" after he posted a fiery Facebook post that claims a trooper pointed a loaded pistol at his 7-year-old daughter during a traffic stop. The post has since gone viral and incited a barrage of negative reactions from commenters.
Early Friday morning, Ken Walton urged people to share his lengthy post describing his arrest the previous evening as he and his daughter were driving from the Hoover Dam to the Grand Canyon in a rental car and were stopped by an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper.
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"Tonight, I was arrested at gunpoint by an Arizona highway patrol officer who threatened to shoot me in the back (twice) in front of my 7-year-old daughter," Walton began his post. "For a moment, I was certain he was going to kill me for no reason. I'm alive, and I need to share the story. PLEASE SHARE IT..."
What followed was a gripping narrative that describes an out-of-control cop terrifying a man and his young daughter. It's been shared on Facebook nearly 45,000 times as of Tuesday afternoon, and has sparked outrage in the comments section of the post. "This has to stop," one commenter wrote. "They are supposed to work for the community, but they have an Us vs Them attitude, and feel they have the power to control, and terrorize us. Big bullies that will kill you. I feel some police want their foot on our necks. And 'good' cops need to stop turning a blind eye to it."
DPS officials told Vocativ that while they sympathize with Walton, and his "inflammatory" post is "in line" with the trooper's version of events, it isn't entirely accurate, and serves as little more than a faulty anecdote to fuel the anti-cop sentiment currently gripping much of the country.
"We don't agree with the platform he used and the way that he portrayed it," DPS Captain Damon Cecil said. "[It's] just used to incite people. How do you say those things and not know that those words are going to incite? It's irresponsible."
Walton did not respond to Vocativ's request for an interview.
According to Cecil, the trooper's version of events is not all that dissimilar from Walton's—the unidentified trooper said he was following Walton's rental car when he ran the license plate on the vehicle and it matched that of a stolen plate. So he initiated a stop—and a "comedy of errors" played out; Walton pulled over and the trooper got out of his cruiser and drew his gun, pointing it at Walton's rental car while giving verbal commands from the side of his cruiser.
"I have no doubt [the trooper] was yelling," said Cecil. "At first contact he was far away." Initially the trooper couldn't see the 7-year-old girl in the vehicle and had no idea she was there when he first drew his gun, Cecil said. Nor did he point it at her.
The trooper approached the vehicle when Walton failed to comply with his orders. That's when Walton appeared to reach for his waist, which prompted the trooper to say something about shooting Walton, Cecil said. According to Walton's retelling on Facebook, the trooper said "Get your hands away from your waist or I'll blow two holes through your back right now!"
"Could our trooper have rephrased that? Absolutely," said Cecil of the trooper's choice of language. "Sitting back in our nice comfortable offices in front of our computers it's really easy to say he shouldn't have done that. But when you see someone make a threatening movement [officers can get nervous.] These situations are highly tense for both parties."
Cecil insists the trooper followed protocol given the rural location and knowing it would take time for backup to arrive. He said backup arrived 10 minutes after Walton was arrested.
Walton's post continues to spread across the internet. Several national news outlets, including the Washington Post, have picked up the story and reprinted Walton's account of an overzealous cop who went too far.
"Our concern here is there's no context no deference to the position the trooper was in and the embellishment that [Walton] put in there for emotional reasons. It's wrong," Cecil said. "There's no video [of the stop] so his contention that our trooper was out of control and yelling and screaming like he was just looking for a reason to shoot him is just wrong and counterproductive."
Cecil said an initial internal investigation found no wrongdoing by the trooper. Any further investigation that could possibly lead to disciplinary action will only come if Walton files a formal complaint, which Cecil suggested he do rather than fire emotional posts on social media that only tell one side of the story.
The post Man Claims Cops Threatened To Shoot His 7-Year-Old In Viral Post appeared first on Vocativ.