Woman says son ‘harassed’ by police

By Bethany Knipp

A Memphis woman said she went to the Riley County Law Enforcement Agency Board meeting Monday seeking justice for her son, a Manhattan man who was shot in May.

Sophia Starks spoke of her son Dareen Starks, 23, before law board members and police administrators, alleging that Riley County police have been harassing her son, despite the fact that he was a victim.

“I’m upset, and I’m outraged with how the Riley County Police Department is handling the situation with my son,” she said.

Dareen Starks reportedly was shot in the stomach during a May 7 incident at the Hop-n-Skip convenience store at the corner of Kimball Avenue and Tuttle Creek Boulevard.

The suspected shooter in the case is 18-year-old Daeshawn Bryant.

Bryant faces charges of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, obstructing the apprehension or prosecution of a felon, aggravated battery and criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Starks said that among the things that she disliked about the way her son’s case was handled were that they took her son’s property, including money and identification, while he was in the hospital on a ventilator and that Bryant was not charged with attempted murder.

She also said her son was refused medication he needed after his injuries while he was held in jail, which she said the police are “constantly” putting him in.

“They’re persisting to make my son look like the villain, the bad guy, this guy look like the victim,” Sophia Starks said.

“He can’t even walk to the store without you bothering him. He’s on a walker,” she said.

Police board vice chair Dave Lewis thanked Starks for her comments. Assistant RCPD director Jon Doehling said, however, that he couldn’t address Starks’ concerns in the public meeting because the case is in court.

Barry Wilkerson, county attorney and law board member, and prosecutor Barry Disney agreed that the board couldn’t comment or discuss the issue for that reason.  Doehling said Starks could go through RCPD’s internal affairs department to list the claims against them so that they could investigate.

“We need an opportunity to verify what you say,” Doehling said. Starks said she would do “whatever’s necessary for my child.”

In other business, Doehling withdrew an order about how to handle special events.

Doehling said the department formulated a new policy in the last couple months about police coverage of events such as bike racing.

The strategy would be to charge for those events to pay for overtime. Doehling said he “sheepishly” withdrew that order because the estimated overtime hours and payment were inflated.

Doehling said the events that officers worked didn’t total more than $15,000 of overtime, not including Country Stampede and football games, for which the police department contracts other officers.

The police board accepted Doehling’s withdrawal request. 

At Monday’s meeting, the RCPD also promoted Sgt. Dustin Weiszbrod to dayshift patrol supervisor and Lt. Lucas Breault to a commander of the second watch patrol division.

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