Treatment for Mental Illness, Chicago Style

Two killed by Chicago Police responding to ‘domestic disturbance’.
Collateral damage from the failure to train law enforcement to handle situations involving mental illness?

Why can’t police respond to domestic disturbances with stun guns or tasers instead of deadly force? Why can’t they find some way to disable a person who may be having a mental breakdown without killing him? And how the HELL does the woman in the first floor apartment get shot THROUGH THE DOOR by a policeman responding to a disturbance in another apartment. Chicago Police say that one was an “accident”. Oops?!?? Really? Tell that to her 5 motherless children and the millions of us who are wondering if black lives are simply collateral losses when cops are so scared that they have to shoot to kill instead of “serve and protect”. Add “mental illness” to the list of capital “crimes” that are punished by policemen being judge, jury and executioner.

Chicago police officer shoots, kills two, one by mistake

In a city troubled by allegations of police misuse of force, a Chicago officer early on Saturday shot and killed a male college student and a mother of five, both black, and the police department later said the woman’s death was both accidental and tragic. […]

“Officers were confronted by a combative subject resulting in the discharging of the officer’s weapon which fatally wounded two individuals,” the police department said in a statement.

A woman, 55, “was accidentally struck and tragically killed,” it said, adding “the department extends its deepest condolences to the victim’s family and friends.”

A young man in his late teens, early twenties who has started to exhibit strange behaviour is quite possibly showing symptoms of schizophrenia and needs medical attention, not 7 bullets pumped into his body. Yes, a person with untreated mental illness can be dangerous but most mental illnesses can be managed with drugs if the person gets help instead of shot dead. Add “training in dealing with mental health issues” to the list of things that sworn officers need before they are given a gun and the right to be judge, jury, and executioner.

ThinkProgress: Shoot first, treat later?

According to NBC 5, police fatally shot Quintonio Legrier, a student at Northern Illinois University, after responding to a call from Legrier’s father. Family at the scene say that police were called after Legrier threatened his father with a baseball bat.

However, Janet Cookery, Legrier’s mother, said her son suffered from mental illness. “He was having a mental situation. Sometimes he will get loud, but not violent,” Cookery told WLS-TV in Chicago.

Police shootings of people suffering from mental illness are a common occurrence. According to a Washington Post investigation, police shot and killed 124 people “in the throes of mental or emotional crisis” in the first six months of 2015. That accounted for nearly one-fourth of all police shootings in the first half of the year.

People around the victims often find themselves in danger as well. On Monday, a Georgia man attempting help his son who was in distress was fatally shot by police.

ABC7 Chicago


  1. How difficult would it be to require training in mental illness and how to deal with it in a stress situation before handing a person a badge and a gun … and extending to them the shield of protection that the current law allows to police officers who “fear for their lives”?

  2. This happens over and over and over – and I wonder when people are going to say enough is enough – and actually do something about it.

    • One would think that if nothing else the money paid out in damages – money literally wasted, along with the lives of those killed – would make the cities fix this problem. You can’t tell me that the half a billion with a b that Chicago has paid out in the last decade couldn’t have trained and equipped their police department to deal better with these situations.

  3. And white people wonder why the Black Lives Matter movement is a necessity. Although, to be fair, I’m sure the police kill white mentally disturbed people too, but I doubt it happens as often. I am just sickened by this story – Chicago just needs a complete cleanup somehow.

  4. To be completely fair, it is not just Chicago. Last year in Milwaukee, a mentally ill man was killed by a cop too busy or too lazy to figure out what to do with him other than shoot him dead.

    Officer Christopher Manney, 38, reportedly encountered [Dontre] Hamilton sleeping in Red Arrow Park and proceed to pat him down. According to Flynn, Hamilton resisted and fought with Manney before hitting the cop’s neck with his own baton. Manney then shot Hamilton 14 times, killing him.

    While Flynn avoided questions about whether the fired officer should face criminal charges, he did confirm that Manney had correctly identified Hamilton as someone who was emotionally disturbed and ignored his training and police policy by treating him as a criminal.

    “You don’t go hands-on and start frisking somebody only because they appear to be mentally ill,” Flynn reportedly said during a news conference.

    The police officer was fired but was not charged criminally because “Self Defense”.

  5. Some additional reporting, from Al Jazeera:

    Chicago police referred The Associated Press’ requests for additional comment to the Independent Police Review Authority, the city’s main police oversight agency. A spokesman for the authority, Larry Merritt, said it was “very early on in the investigation” and couldn’t release further details Saturday. It isn’t known when the medical examiner’s office will do autopsies, which would determine how many times LeGrier and Jones were shot.

    Antonio LeGrier told the Sun-Times that his son had emotional problems after spending most of his childhood in foster care. LeGrier described his son as a “whiz kid” and said he was home on break from Northern Illinois University, where he majored in electrical engineering technology.

    LeGrier’s mother, Janet Cooksey, told the Chicago Tribune that police didn’t have to react the way they did.

    “We’re thinking the police are going to service us, take him to the hospital. They took his life,” said Cooksey, who was not present at the time of the shooting.

    The characterization of Bettie Jones as an “innocent victim” is rather troubling. In my mind, both are victims and the young man was an innocent victim of trial-by-gun, the failure of law enforcement to devise appropriate responses to mental health situations and their willingness to shoot to kill.

  6. Meanwhile, in Cleveland, the cop who killed Tamir Rice will not be charged because it was “reasonable” for him to arrive at a scene and shoot to kill 2 seconds after seeing the 12 year old boy with a pellet gun.

    @LiamDrydenEtc: I’m terrified for the US, if those “serving and protecting” can revoke a 12 y/o’s right to life because they find him “menacing”. #TamirRice

  7. Someone on Twitter just said, “I’m tired” when the Rice decision was announced. That sums up what I feel, with a healthy dose of frustration. No one is ever held accountable and it is now “reasonable” to roll onto a scene and shoot someone.

    Did the cops in Cleveland make sure civilians had vacated the vicinity of the park if Tamir was so dangerous? Why did the police pull up so close? Why did they exit their vehicle so quickly? What exactly had Tamir done? Allegedly pointed his (toy) gun at people? He was 12. We did that all the time growing up with our cap guns.

    I can’t even figure wtf the latest Chicago cops were doing. But as long as no one pays why should their behavior change.

    • Crap! Meant to mention that I have a friend (I really do) who reminds me that this is why black folks don’t call the cops: either they don’t show up or someone ends up dead.

    • ThinkProgress has a good timeline of the Tamir Rice case. And the reason why we could play with toy guns and point them at people is because we are white! Easy peasy.

      Maybe they should pass laws to ban toy guns (as far as I know, there are no 2nd Amendment rights to toys). Then police, and “good guys with guns” vigilantes will know who to shoot! Problem solved.

      In Texas, starting Friday, folks can carry their weapons anywhere they want. :( We are regressing as a society, enabled by the Tenthers running state governments and a Supreme Court making it more and more difficult for people who want good government to vote out the bad guys.

      • Maybe they should pass laws to ban toy guns

        Apparently the prosecutor yesterday suggested that toy gun manufacturers don’t produce guns that look so real. Maybe we should ban police from opening fire in the first 30 seconds of arrival but that would make too much sense.

        I was struck (poor choice of words) this morning by the defense that the police did not realize Tamir was 12 since he looked big for his age. Well duh! They didn’t take the time to find out; it is abundantly clear that “shoot first, ask questions later” has become the norm.

        And, thanks for the reminder that I don’t need to head to Texas anytime soon (although I do have to go to Austin on next week for work). :(

        • Well, it would be “unreasonable” to expect cops to know how to count to 30. :)

          Shoot first, ask questions later … only if the alleged shooter is black. This Tweet!

          Diane Gardner ‏@abronxchick

          • But yet the Colorado FOP (or whatever it is called) says we’re the racists for assuming race had anything to do with it. How can we not make that assumption at this point? It just happens over and over and over.

            The Chicago cop who killed Laquan McDonald is expected to plead “not guilty.” How wouldn’t he?

          • This! “How can we not make that assumption at this point?”

            Either the cops are racist or they are so terrified of black males that the only thing they can do when confronted with any show of emotion by them is to shoot and kill. Too many cops don’t respect the humanity of black people … isn’t that the very definition of racism?

            And yes, the cop who pumped 16 bullets into Laquan McDonald, some of them after he was laying on the ground, pleaded not guilty because “fear for one’s safety” is now blanket immunity for what is obviously rage, in his case, and laziness, in the case of the officers who responded to the LeGrier house.

  8. The behavior of the cops is beyond disgusting. I hope the Black Lives Matter keeps pointing this out and something is done.

    When we thought we were going to move, we got rid of our gun, an ugly thing called a .38 revolver, by turning it over to the police. Other than that, I don’t know quite what to do other than vote Democratic.

Comments are closed.