Spanaway father arrested after 11-year-old son's suicide threat

VIDEO: Father arrested after son's suicide threat

SPANAWAY, Wash. — An 11-year old Spanaway boy texted a friend last night that he was going to kill himself.

Within an hour, that boy’s father was under arrest.

Daryl Salhus was booked into the Pierce County Jail Wednesday night on suspicion of resisting arrest and obstruction of justice. He believes law enforcement officers used excessive force during a private family incident.

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However, Detective Ed Troyer told KIRO 7 that Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputies were strictly acting in the interest of the boy’s safety.

Just four hours after bailing out of jail Thursday morning, Salhus said he and his wife Christine had no knowledge of their 11-year old son’s text until deputies rang the doorbell at their Spanaway home.

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Deputies immediately started “talking about professionals and taking my son, and I’m like ‘you’re not taking my kid and putting him into the system. My wife and I will talk to him and figure out what we need to do,’” Salhus said he told responding deputies.

The parents believed talking with their son themselves would be enough.

However, deputies felt the situation was far more serious.

According to a Sheriff’s Office incident report, deputies asked the boy “Do you want to kill yourself?”

The 11-year old responded, “Yes.”

Deputies then asked if he wanted to speak with a mental health professional and “he stated he did.”

Deputies claim, the boy’s father refused to take him for a mental health evaluation immediately so deputies planned to.

When Salhus refused to allow it, he was arrested in front of his family.

“They have Daryl in a headlock and another one’s laying on him and another one’s handcuffing him,” Christine Salhus said. She claims her husband was not resisting arrest, yet deputies were “choking” him anyway.

“I was never threatening.  I was firm and said, ‘you’re not taking my son’” Daryl Salhus told KIRO 7 from the kitchen table of his home on 46th Avenue East. “To escalate into a thuggery beating, for what?  What did I do?  Protect my family?”

“We really wanted the dad to take the kid down and get him a mental health evaluation.  If we knew that was being done, none of this would have happened,” Troyer said in response to the family’s concerns. “We cannot leave that situation. If something would have happened after we left, and that kid attempted or committed suicide, can you imagine where we would be right now?”

Troyer fully supports how the deputies handled the situation and told KIRO 7 that three children under the age of 12 have died by suicide in Pierce County in just the past month.

But the Solhus family believes, law enforcement escalated the situation unnecessarily and should not have arrested anybody.

“I understand making welfare checks and making sure the child is ok,” Christine Salhus said, “but when you traumatize that child and the rest of the family by dragging him out of the house screaming and arresting, tackling and brutalizing his dad, you compound it by 800 times.”

Salhus plans to hire a lawyer to fight not only any criminal charges that may be filed, but to possibly pursue a lawsuit against Pierce County because he believes his civil rights were violated.