Destini Hover and John Woodruff
Destini Woodruff, left, and John Woodruff (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)

The two Metropolitan Police Department officers arrested last week on child abuse charges hit the child with a belt and had been investigated multiple times before, according to a recently released arrest report.

John Woodruff and Destini Hover, both of whom have worked for Metro since 2016, were arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit child abuse, child abuse or neglect and domestic battery by strangulation on May 19, court records show. Police identified Hover as Destini Woodruff.

Neither showed up in online jail records Tuesday afternoon.

According to the report, Hover’s 6-year-old son accused Woodruff of hitting him with a belt and picking him up by his neck on May 9. The boy’s father, Derrick, whose last name was redacted from the report, reported the alleged abuse to police on May 14.

Child Protective Services found bruises on the boy’s lower back, buttocks, legs and neck on May 15, according to the report.

Derrick told police that he and Hover “share a custody agreement outside of the purview of the Family Court system and relied upon in good faith.”

According to the report, Derrick showed police a text message from Hover on May 9 explaining that their son was caught “bullying” his sister and that she was keeping him over the weekend so he can “get it through his head that he cannot lie and bully anyone ever and then just go to your house and get away with it!”

Police believe Woodruff and Hover kept the child longer than their usual custody agreement in “an effort to hide their crime.”

Prior cases

When police interviewed Hover on May 16, she admitted to spanking her son but claimed that it was she, not Woodruff, who hit the boy with a belt.

According to the report, Woodruff was investigated by the Henderson Police Department in January 2018 after his 3-year-old, nonverbal autistic son “had bruising to the right upper thigh and right buttocks.” Police determined that the boy’s injuries were caused by his eczema and “did not appear to rise to the level of child abuse.”

Hover said she went to Walmart to buy girls’ clothing for her son to wear to school as punishment. She told police that the boy has a “behavior pattern of lying,” but police said his behavior is “consistent notwithstanding that he is only six years old.”

The couple was investigated by Child Protective Services twice in April 2019 after they disciplined a 5-year-old boy in their care by hitting his bare buttocks with a belt and “making him wear girls’ clothing and shaming him,” the report said.

The boy wore girls’ clothes to school multiple times and said he’d been forced to go to McDonald’s dressed as a girl and tell the cashier, “I’m a pretty girl,” according to the report.

The boy cried when school ended on April 5, 2019, and “begged the principal not to call his mom because he would be beaten again by his stepdad,” the report said.

According to the report, Child Protective Services closed both cases because there was “no known information that the parenting tactics had affected (the boy’s) daily functioning and that maltreatment was not identified.”

Hover and Woodruff were expected in court Wednesday morning.

Woodruff sued

A Las Vegas man sued Metro and Woodruff on Tuesday, claiming he was unreasonably arrested in November and that Woodruff made racist remarks.

Douglas Seymour, who is black, alleged in the lawsuit that Woodruff knocked on his door around 5:15 a.m. on Nov. 20 and said there had been a complaint of animal abuse. Seymour asked why he had to come outside with the officer and Woodruff told him, “Okay, now you’re detained,” according to the lawsuit.

Seymour said he was handcuffed and put in a patrol car while Woodruff “made disparaging comments against African Americans” and threatened to come back to the house, the suit said. When Seymour asked to speak with a supervisor, Woodruff arrested him.

Clark County Animal Control picked up Seymour’s 8-week-old puppy while he was taken to a police station and held for four or five hours, the suit said.

At the station, Seymour said he spoke with a supervisor who told him he “shouldn’t have been arrested,” brought him home and got his puppy back from Animal Control, according to the suit.

Seymour is represented by attorney Peter Goldstein.

By Alexis Egeland 

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