This was originally published on Liberal America on August 21, 2017.
In January, James Owens, who struggled with mental illness and addiction, lost his life to a police bullet. His grieving nephew said:
“(He) was gunned down like a wild animal in his own home. He was supposed to be protected. He wasn’t provided without that assistance.”
There was a rally of about 200 people in Brooklyn, New York on Saturday about police violence against the mentally ill.
Many of the people in attendance had friends or loved ones who suffered the same fate as Owens.
Police were called when Owens was suffering from a bad reaction to new medication. Owens became agitated and began acting erratically. Police tasered him first, then when that didn’t work, they shot him.
The march was organized by Attorney Sanford Rubenstein, who is representing four families who had members shot and killed by police.
“Only 13% of NYPD officers have been trained how to deal with emotionally disturbed people. That is unacceptable for the people of New York. One hundred percent of police officers must be trained to deal with emotionally disturbed people.”
“When a family calls 911 for help they don’t want to see their loved one killed by police.”
At the beginning of August, 5,653 out of the 23,000 cops on patrol have received special training on how to deal with the mentally ill.
A cousin of one person killed by police said:
“They’re here to protect us and to have someone reach out to you because their son is having an issue or their mentally ill child isn’t taking their medication. You’re not expecting them to come in and gun your child down.”
Police everywhere should be receiving training on how to deal with the mentally ill because they are they are the ones who are called in when these situations arise. There has got to be a better way to handle these situations.