Keaton Parizek, the 18-year-old son of Des Moines police spokesperson and Sergeant Paul Parizek, called for his father’s dismissal from the department and voiced support for Black Lives Matter protesters in an exclusive interview this week with the Informer.
“I don’t like bullies, no matter where they’re from,” Keaton said. “People who have power and abuse it should not have that power.” He claimed this behavior extended to his own home life growing up before his parents’ separation, a period when he was consistently subjected to physical and emotional abuse from the man who’s now the public face of the DMPD amid its controversial policing of the protest movement.
“He dragged me by my arm into my room,” Keaton said. “He grabbed me by my neck and by my ear in public. He hit me with rulers and spatulas. He hit me upside the head.” Before speaking with the Informer, Keaton hinted at his story on social media on his own and discussed going public in further detail with a lawyer before doing so.
In response to a request for comment detailing the allegations laid out by his son, Paul Parizek responded from his personal email instead of his official one, arguing the questions pertained to him as a father and not as a public employee. “I categorically deny all of these allegations,” he said. “It is disgusting that anyone would take advantage of a young man in Keaton’s situation. Out of respect for all my children, I will not comment further on any of this.”
Keaton described his father as otherwise largely absent from his life, saying he was mostly raised by his mother. Paul Parizek worked long hours, according to Keaton, and only interacted with him when he “wanted something” or occasionally attended his youth sports events. The police officer was persistently dismissive of his son’s curiosity in future careers, Keaton added, instead pressuring him to follow in his footsteps as a cop.
“He didn’t really know how to parent,” said Keaton, who expressed concern for his two 13-year-old siblings he claimed have been subjected to the same harsh physical discipline and emotional neglect that he endured. “Growing up in a room next to my parents, I overheard a lot of fighting.”
Keaton said his relationship with his father began to fully deteriorate in 2017, when his parents’ divorce was finalized several years after Paul Parizek left the family home. A staffer in the Polk County clerk of court’s office acknowledged the existence of the divorce records but told the Informer they had been sealed and were not available to the public.
Des Moines Black Lives Matter demonstrators have accused Paul Parizek of lying about the general nature of their recent events in Iowa’s capital city, in particular his characterizations of several violent clashes involving police that he’s blamed on protesters. Keaton told the Informer he agreed with their criticism of his father, adding that he attended three of the protests himself and believed that what he witnessed contradicted his father’s public statements.
Keaton also claimed that he’d heard his father refer to Black Lives Matter activists in general as “thugs” in recent years — an accusation broadly consistent with dismissive statements Paul Parizek has made about the movement.
“My goal with coming out about this is not to make things about me, but to empower and inspire others who have had negative experiences with him to come forward knowing you aren’t alone,” Keaton said of his father. “I would like to see him removed from being able to abuse his power as a public servant and have the position of public information officer filled by a public vote. I stand with Black Lives Matter and there needs to be change.”
Keaton’s mother, Tricia Kubicek, took back her maiden name from Parizek in 2019, court records show. Although she has declined to speak on the record about her ex-husband, Kubicek has, through Keaton, given her full support to her son and his claims about his father. She also criticized Paul Parizek without naming him in a public Facebook post published on May 31, just after Black Lives Matter protests erupted in Des Moines.
“While I am white, I know what it feels like to be minimized by people in power,” she wrote. “I am familiar with being discarded and viewed as less important. The amount of corruption in law enforcement is infuriating. The very person who is the face and voice of the department is an illusion. He exists so the public pays ‘no attention to the man behind the curtain.’ DMPD has both an image and a culture problem. They have paid out thousands of dollars in racial profiling lawsuits just in the past several years. Yes. It’s a problem.”
Kubicek went on to note that she was a police officer herself from 1996 to 2008, claiming she worked hard to be fair and equitable in that role. She added that it pained her to see protesters criticizing police, implying that she didn’t want to be associated with the Black Lives Matter movement because she didn’t “want to be looped in with those who don’t share my value system.”
Paul Parizek has worked in law enforcement since 1991, joining the Des Moines Police Department in July 2005. He’s first cited as a department spokesperson by the Des Moines Register in October 2014. He was recently filmed in a state of apparent intoxication at the East Village restaurant Ceviche by a Black Lives Matter protester named Jaylen Cavil, who was hit by a state vehicle transporting Governor Kim Reynolds and later arrested by Des Moines police in an unrelated incident last week.