Calls are made to 911 each and every day for various reasons. Some individuals call because they suspect a crime is being committed in their neighborhood while others have an emergency they need handled right away. On certain occasions, however, police dispatchers receive calls from the friends and loved ones of individuals whom they believe might need help such as someone who is suffering from a mental health issue. When these calls are placed, those on the other end assume that the officers who are dispatched to handle the call are going to go and check on the well-being of their friend or loved one and provide them with the assistance they might need.
Unfortunately, many of the calls Minnesota police officers go on involving someone who suffers from a mental illness don’t end well. KSTP highlighted that from “2004-2016, 30 percent of the people shot by law enforcement in Minnesota were diagnosed as having a mental illness.” While it is clear that someone suffering from a condition that affects their mental state could be a potential threat to themselves or the officers who arrive to handle the call, a recent incident indicates that officers may notbe handling these situations in the manner in which they should.
Below we highlight some of the details from a recent encounter Minneapolis police officers had with 36-year-old Travis Jordan and why he is no longer alive today.
On November 9tha friend of Travis Jordan’s called the Minneapolis police department to come and conduct a wellness check on the 6-year-old as he suffered from mental illness and was said to be suicidal. When police arrived at Jordan’s home, he came outside and was armed with a knife. Sadly, things got out of hand and instead of Jordan getting the help he needed, he was shot to death by officers. Another friend of Jordan’s spoke with KSTP and said that “if they knew he needed help they shouldn’t have come out with blazing guns and killing people.”
The reality is, police are often faced with various types of circumstances when they arrive at a call. Sometimes, they encounter someone who is armed, dangerous, and a threat to society. Other times, they encounter an individual like Jordan who simply needs help but doesn’t know who to turn to for it. While they may be armed, they may not be a threat to the community which is why Jordan’s friends in Minnesota are demanding that something be done in how calls involving mentally ill individuals are handled. Activists who attended the vigil that was held for Jordan also said that improvements need to be “in how police respond to people in crisis.”
On certain occasions, mental health experts will go on calls with police when they are notified that they will be dealing with someone who suffers from a mental illness, however, there isn’t always an expert available for each and every call that comes in. The news source highlighted that “on average, [the] MPD [Minnesota Police Department] handles 376 calls each month for emotionally disturbed people.” Unfortunately, when an expert is not available and certain police officers are dispatched to calls like Jordan’s, their first instinct is to use their weapons as their first line of defense rather than take into account that the person they are responding to simply needs help.
So, the answer to the question posed at the beginning of this article which was whether mental health victims are at risk of being harmed when they encounter police officers is yes. Based on the statistics mentioned and the incident cited above, there may be times when a person who is suffering from a mental illness might be harmed by police officers rather than be helped by them.
In the event you know someone who has suffered an injury or was killed by a Minneapolis police officer and are looking to seek justice for the mistreatment that has been inflicted upon them, don’t wait to contact a Minneapolis, MN police brutality lawyer. USAttorneys.com can connect you with some of the best police misconduct lawyers in the field who will know exactly how to approach the situation and help you to obtain a favorable outcome.