Police Violence Towards The Mentally Ill Happens More Often Than You’d Imagine
On October 18, an officer from the New York Police Department shot and killed a 66-year-old woman named Deborah Tanner, who happened to be mentally ill.
After a neighbor called police about a woman behaving erratically and irrationally, officers drove to her apartment. Once there, a sergeant found Tanner holding scissors as a weapon, but he convinced her to put them down. However, when Tanner grabbed a baseball bat and tried to hit him with it, he shot her twice. She later died of her injuries at the Jacobi Medical Center.
Unfortunately, situations like these are occurring way more often than any of us would like to believe.
When police are faced with potentially dangerous situations, it’s a reality that they sometimes have to use their guns. But according to a disturbing recent report, nearly half of the people killed by police between 2013 and 2015 had some kind of disability.
It isn’t that surprising when you take a look at all of the recent
headlines. Just in September, a 30-year-old mentally ill man named
Alfred Olango was shot and killed
outside of a shopping center in El Cajon, California. Police said he
had raised an object at them, but they later found out it wasn’t a
Again in July, a police officer shot at an autistic patient who was holding a toy truck in his hand near a Miami group home. The bullet hit employee Charles Kinsey instead while he was lying on the ground next to the man with his hands raised in the air. He had been trying to calm the patient down.
But this hasn’t only been happening in the last year, as the report tells us. In 2014, 18-year-old Keith Vidal, who suffered from schizophrenia, was fatally shot by police during an episode in his North Carolina home. He had been armed with a screwdriver.
Though police believed that these people were wielding weapons (and some were), I think many of us can agree that better measures need to be taken when it comes to dealing with mentally ill and disabled people who act out when they aren’t in their right minds.