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8/20/2013 6:00:00 AM
Slain man's mother: 'I'm so sorry I called the police'
Son's behavior 'strange' before fatal fight with Mohave County deputy
Blake Barbour was killed in a fight with a Mohave County Sheriff’s deputy Friday morning. His mother holds little ill will toward the man who shot her son, but she questions why only one deputy would respond to a domestic violence call, which are among the most dangerous for law enforcement. (Courtesy)
Blake Barbour was killed in a fight with a Mohave County Sheriff’s deputy Friday morning. His mother holds little ill will toward the man who shot her son, but she questions why only one deputy would respond to a domestic violence call, which are among the most dangerous for law enforcement. (Courtesy)
Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Susan Barbour wishes she never dialed 9-1-1.

With every single fiber of her being, she wishes she never picked up the phone.

But she did.

Now deep stabs of guilt compete for her attention with wave after wave of grief over her dead son, who was shot multiple times and killed by a Mohave County Sheriff's deputy early Friday morning.

The mother of Blake Barbour struggled to maintain her composure in an interview Monday as she recounted the events that led to her son's violent death.

According to Barbour, her 43-year-old son was shot four times by veteran Mohave County Sheriff's Deputy Jace Reif after he yanked away the deputy's baton. Reif used his baton after several shots from a taser failed to subdue Barbour.

She said she doesn't hate the deputy, but she questions the decisions he made that morning and she is shocked a lone deputy would respond to a domestic violence call.

In fact, Barbour believes if even one more deputy had been on scene, her son would still be alive.

"Blake needed help," she said. "I thought maybe the police could help us. He was acting erratic, but he was not hurting anyone."

Later, she acknowledged that her son dragged her to the ground and that's what prompted her to call law enforcement. She insists he never hurt her, but she concedes she was afraid he might as his behavior had become increasingly unpredictable in recent months.

Still, she questions a policy that calls for a single deputy to respond to a domestic violence in progress.

"I do not understand why only one deputy was sent and will never understand until the day I die. I used the word violent on the phone because I wanted them to know it was serious. When someone comes 25 minutes later, it's one small deputy."

Blake Barbour had no criminal record to speak of, she said. He was convicted of a DUI "ages ago" and also had a domestic violence arrest in the distant past. She admits, however, that his behavior could be attributed to drugs. She said deputies searched her home on Friday and no drugs were found. A mirror "with nothing on it" was seized, she said, but that was all.

"He's had his bouts with drugs and so drugs are a possibility," she said, but his behavior never became unpredictable until he contracted meningitis a few months ago.

"He was never the same after that," she said. Meningitis can cause negative changes in behavior, according to the National Library of Medicine.

One thing she's certain of is that her son had not been drinking and he had not been up all night.

He awoke early to work on a car and was welding when he started acting odd. He jumped into an aboveground swimming pool fully clothed and had stripped out of his clothes when the deputy arrived.

"That couldn't have helped the situation," said Barbour. "He was naked and that had to seem very strange to the deputy."

Barbour, 63, and her mother, Billie Jean Griffith, 87, live next to each other in homes on two lots converted to one on Packard Avenue, off of Bank Street and north of Northern Avenue.

That morning, she called police from her mom's house. She said it took about 25 minutes for Reif to arrive.

"I met him at the gate. I told him Blake was not himself, that he was acting strange," she said.

Susan Barbour was surprised when Reif told her he was aware of her son's mental state because he had given him a ride just the day before.

"He said Blake said some crazy things on Thursday."

In any event, the situation went from bad to worse in no time at all, said Barbour.

"Blake was still mad. He told the deputy he had to leave, but the deputy ordered him to the ground and when Blake refused he tased him over and over, but Blake was strong like a bull and he only went down once, and got back up."

She admitted Reif ordered her son to stay down several times.

"I saw him hitting Blake with the baton and I saw Blake take the baton away and then he shot him. At first I thought he was using rubber bullets, but they were real ones. I think he shot him four times. I could see the bullet holes, but they wouldn't let me go to him."

Barbour hugged herself and fought back the tears as she asked, "Why didn't he wait for backup? The deputy is a small man and Blake was 6-foot and 220 pounds. He was so much bigger than the deputy and the deputy knew that."

Barbour said she was hurt by mean-spirited comments Miner readers posted under the story about her son's death, and she wanted to set the record straight.

"My son was not a drug addict," she said. "He was not an alcoholic or a violent person. He was a beautiful child and a good baby."

Susan, a retired flight attendant, said her stories of seeing the world fascinated her son. He had an interest in Asia and recently returned from Thailand about three weeks ago. Last year, he spent a couple of months in Hong Kong.

An electrician by trade who previously worked at the proving grounds in Yucca and at several big projects in Las Vegas, Barbour was divorced and had no children.

"He had a good heart," she said. "If he only had five dollars and somebody needed five dollars, he'd give it to them and go without eating."

Barbour looked at an 8 by 11 photograph taken shortly after her son was born on April 22, 1970. It's a black and white photo of a happy, smiling baby boy. She hugged herself so hard it looked like she was trying to bear hug herself into unconsciousness.

"I'm so sorry I called the police," she wailed. "I want people to know what a good person he was. He wasn't a bad person like some are saying. I watched him die and that's an image I can't get out of my mind ... I feel so cheated."

Reif is on paid administrative leave. Lt. Steve Smith with the Bullhead City Police is investigating the shooting at the request of Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

Blake Barbour's autopsy was conducted Monday.

Related Stories:
• UPDATED: Fatal shooting by Mohave County deputy justified
• Kingman man drug free, sober when killed by deputy
• Kingman man shot, killed while battling deputy

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Article comment by: Janell Abraham

People please be kind. Our world is already in torment. A mother lost her son and a man died. The Sheriff felt threatened obviously but I think 4 times is excessive. These men are trained and have to be on the force for years to be a Sheriff, correct? I would like to think he had to have many years of experience before getting this position. I would like to think he had the knowledge on how to maintain composure in a situation. Considering he had just given Blake a ride the day before and said "he was talking crazy" maybe he would have waited for another car to arrive? The day after this happened two people in that neighborhood were asking people in their yards for work, just a little something because they were hungry. Someone called the cops on them and in 5 minutes, 2 sheriff cars showed up. Really? I was astounded. I think this whole situation could have been handled differently. RIP Blake I hope you are better where you are now. You will be truly missed.

Posted: Saturday, August 24, 2013
Article comment by: Frustrated In Mohave County

Who's to say the deputy didn't call for back-up before investigating the situatuon? Even so, what is he supposed to do? "Hold on, sir, I need to call for back-up before you go any further." I can't believe how many ignorant people these cops have to protect! Previous articles published regarding this incident clearly state this man attempted to harm deputy Reif. This woman or her EIGHTY-SEVEN year old mother may have been killed if it weren't for Reif. I understand she's a grieving mother, but consider what the deputy may be going through. It's not as though any of this was premeditated. He didn't go into the situatuon hoping to harm anyone. If the suspect in this case was mentally ill, maybe as his mother, she should have sought medical help for him.

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013
Article comment by: Imagine That

He's been repeatedly tasered and is being struck with a night stick. What do you all expect a person to do? The guy grabs a cop's nightstick, and do you expect him to do? But 4 times?? That is excessive. Just remember, once you call the law, the situation is out of your hands. Not allowing the woman to go to her son's side or to the hospital with him in his dying moments is cruel, heartless and unnecessary. Cops investigating cops does not ensure impartiality.

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013
Article comment by: just me

For those of you who wish to criticize a deputy for his actions, you weren't there, and try taking a walk in his boots. It is sad that the man lost his life for him and his family, but it did happen and the results of the investigation will be made public soon. We should all wait for those results before we make judgement.

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013
Article comment by: Kingmanmom .

"According to Carter, Barbour was combative when Reif arrived. The deputy shot him with his Taser several times, but the non-lethal weapon did not affect him.

Reif and Barbour physically struggled, she said, until Barbour grabbed Reif's baton and moved to strike the deputy. That's when Reif drew his weapon and fired."

SAD situation all around.

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

A Kingmonite....good luck on that local attorney willing to go up against local law enforcement on this case! One might find one who will sell out their client in favor of friends in the county who might have more to offer them than the client! I still say look outside the county or even the state since then one can bet no good ole boy network will be involved!

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013
Article comment by: tj denton

a call for a review board.

there is an independent review of these officer involved shootings. they are investigated by police departments from other cities so there isnt bias in the investigations. it directly mentions this fact in the article. now please tell me your extensive knowledge of police procedures, state and federal law regarding lethal self defense and then you can "review" these incidents and critisize the actions taken. and to everyone here jumping on this officers actions, if someone is within 21 feet of you, threatening your life with a deadly weapon that isnt a firearm, lethal force to protect yourself is legal. point, blank, period, so move along

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013
Article comment by: Original Kingmanite

Nevertheless Ms Barbour I am terribly sorry for your loss and that you had to witness such an event. I can't imagine losing a child so my thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013
Article comment by: Cathy Barbour

Recently there was a city officer involved shooting. Officer Evan Hopper felt threatened and fired one shot, defused the situation and the man lived. Officer Reif fired six times hitting Blake four times. Blake did not even stand a chance and no where does it show that Blake threatened the officer with the baton after taking it. I think that this officer was scared and out of control and should think about a different career choice. It also tells me that the Kingman Police has had better training in these situations.

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013
Article comment by: Lassiter Brown

MCSO Deputies often have to go to calls alone. The county desperately needs to add staffing. A law enforcement agency should have staffing not just based on calls for service but based on worst case such as this. That being said the Deputy did nothing wrong but the county must add more officers.

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Bob Moore:

First, when are you ever going to dump Grandpa Smith's name? It's starting to look kind of stupid. It's been several years now since you tried to convince yourself he wasn't my Gtandfather and since we know he was, you might need to change your name.

Second, I never, ever complain about local utilities. Not my bag. Couldn't care less. They are what they are and not much I can do about them if I feel they are too high.

Common sense would have told the deputy to call for backup BEFORE he went in since both he and the Mother agreed her son was acting strangely.

Strangely means not normal, probably need more than one man period. Don't wait until you are in the middle of it, do it ahead of time - less chance of a problem.

Now explain why the Mother wasn't allowed to see her son, go to him, whatever. His last time on earth and she is not allowed?

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013
Article comment by: get your facts first

I am perplexed as to how anyone could call this officer small. Close in height to the deceased and out weighed him, too. My condolences to the deceased family. My condolences to the victim, Officer Reif. Both families will be dealing with this for years to come. The only fault here is with the deceased.

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013
Article comment by: TRAINING MR.C.

@ Jim Lightfoot, Your comment regarding this incident should be a wake up call to everyone involved in this most unfortunate incident.

This could easy have been a "autistic" individual who actions are not readily recognize by "routine" trained R.O.

Could this particular indecent have been avoided? only those directly involved and on scene "can" answer for certain.

This deputy's radio and hes traffic with hes/her dispatcher is something i certainly would be interested in knowing more about. The taking of a life should never be taken lightly, Especial by one who has sworn to up hold it.

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013
Article comment by: A Kingmanite

A Anonymous, might you suggest a good lawyer in this community willing to go up against our established law enforcement?

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013
Article comment by: Well That's Different, It's Our Government Cops

I wonder are all these folks supporting "government" law enforcement officers the same group advocating for gun ownership because you just "can't trust the government".

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013
Article comment by: A Call for A Review Board

The increase in officer-involved shootings by city and county law enforcement officers is exactly why we should have a citizens review committee that looks at what happened and how it could be prevented from happening again. Yes, Sheehan and DeVries review each and every one but where is an independent review. Now, before everyone jumps on me for saying the cops are at fault, please read what I suggest. It is in the departments best interests to have the community accept the outcome as acceptable than to wonder if there is a officer that might be trigger happy. Again, I'm not suggesting that is the case here. Instead of debating and making accusations on our newspaper's web page it would better serve all of us to have a intelligent and fair group of citizens reviewing each shooting.

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013
Article comment by: Jack a Lope

I have absolutely no idea what really happened there. I have no idea what anybody mind state was there. I have no idea what anybodys mental state/condition was. I do know there is a huge, night and day, difference between MCSO deputies and KPD and for that matter DPS officers, in demeanor as well as training.

About 2 years ago i went for a small hike that brought me out at the foot hills across from Norther ave. I started heading south down Northern and at Melody a deputy stopped me. Now in his defence, it was my day off, i was unshaven, sweaty (been hiking for about 8 hrs by then) wearing a ratty tshirt, shorts and a pair of merril minimilist trail shoes. NO ID. The deputy appeared very adgitated and nervous when he demanded i produce id and i questioned him as to why he was stopping me, at that point he had taken a defensive posture

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013
Article comment by: Jenday Parrot

Comment exceeded word limit

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Bob Moore:

Want to show me one place the story says the officer was being attacked?

It's not there. I have to shout and even then you don't listen.

Taking the baton he is being hit with away from the officer is not attacking him. It is keeping himself from being hit again and again.

The saddest thing for me is, obviously the man needed help. Instead he got tazed repeatedly and hit with a baton and then shot. This is how you help a man in trouble?

The deputy should never have gone alone, especially since the Mother had said her son was acting strange and the deputy had given him a ride the day before and he himself said he was talking strange. Duh!! Might want to take a little backup officer. If you can't do your job, get the hell off the force.

This one has steamed me. This young man, who may have been having problems from an illness he had needed help. There were other avenues rather than shooting him. Death is forever when it was needless.

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013
Article comment by: tj denton

seems like a clear cut case of the officer defending himself on both the laws side and the account of the mother. two officers cant respond to every call that they get. the fact of the matter is that 1. he was actively resisting arrest, 2. during the exchange he obtained a deadly weapon (I assume he then attempted to use it) and 3. the officer stopped the threat on his life. although I feel bad that the mother lost her son, there isn't really much to say about the situation. I don't think the officer deserves any criticism for his actions, and I don't think he wants praise either. he simply had to protect his own life.

Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Article comment by: DON'T JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS

Proverbs 18:17 -- The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him.

Maybe the Miner Staff should obtain the 911 recordings as well as a copy of the report when complete....lets examine all the information before we condemn people.

And to Ms Lee - All murder is killing, but not all killing is murder!

Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Article comment by: Ron Pauly

A bit more heads up to the police would be something to learn from this. Also that many times, yes its a bad idea to call the cops, at least on your own family.
The cops have a tough job, going from one bad situation to another and trying to make sure they make it home alive.

Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew


Your shouting (why do you do that?) will not alter the fact that the officer was being attacked. Now, please be specific as to how the officer was supposed “CALL FOR BACKUP” when he was being attacked?

And of course were the city to hire more police officers so that three of them (according to your apocryphal little story) could respond to each call you would be one of the first complaining about a tax increase to pay for them.

Any second guessing based on “Well, when I…” or “He should have…” is ridiculous. None of us were there so we cannot express an honest opinion as to what the officer “should have done.”

Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Article comment by: Original Kingmanite

@ Brokenhearted on both sides

"sounds like Blake was acting in self-defense to me" last I checked a person assaulting a officer who is trying to effect a arrest is called resisting arrest not self defense but maybe I'm completely clueless and it's acceptable behavior to assault a officer in the first place.

@ Michaele Lee

Shoot him in the legs? I don't think any police department in this country trains officers to shoot people in the legs. From the way it sounds it was a quick and violent situation and you think it's possible for someone to actually aim and hit someone's legs who is moving quickly and fighting?

Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Kingman Resident:

Two things. The story plainly says the woman met the deputy at the gate and said her son was acting strange. He was naked might have been a first clue. CALL FOR BACKUP BEFORE GOING IN!! When my family member was acting the same way and I called, three cops showed up. No problem.

Then the story states the deputy had picked Blake up the day before and he himself saw he was acting strange. RED FLAG. CALL FOR BACK UP BEFORE GOING IN.

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