When Joe Prude called the police on his brother, he was asking for help: Daniel Prude, who suffered from mental health problems, had run almost naked out of his Rochester, New York, house into the snow. When officers arrived, new video footage shows, the March 23 encounter quickly turned violent, and Prude died from asphyxiation under a hood officers had put over his head.
Two years prior, in 2018, Shukri Ali Said of Georgia also wound up dead after leaving her house during a mental health crisis on April 23, 2018. Police, called in to help, found Said standing at an intersection holding a knife. Officers shot her five times in the neck and chest, killing her.
That same month, in New York, officers answered a 911 call about a black man waving something that looked like a gun. In fact, it was a pipe. But when Saheed Vassell, a 34-year-old father with mental illness who was well known in his Brooklyn community, pointed it at police, they shot him dead.
Prude, Vassell and Said are among the hundreds of people with intellectual disabilities or mental illnesses in the United States killed by police every year. According to The Washington Post, 197 of the 999 people shot by police last year had a mental illness.
Police are almost always the first responders in cases of mental health crises in the United States, as they are in criminal and medical emergencies.
From deinstitutionalization to disarray
As a disability and ethics scholar who focuses on criminal justice, I know this country has long failed to justly and humanely care for people with psychiatric and intellectual disabilities.
For most of American history, people with mental health disabilities were locked away in hospital-like institutions, many of them state-run. Starting in the 1950s, the physical and sexual abuse common in these facilities, as well as other inhumane practices, spurred a decades-long effort to close them down and return residents to the community.
This process, called deinstitutionalization, was meant to replace institutions with local mental health centers that would provide community-based mental health treatment and assistance for those recently released from institutions.
However, in 1981 Ronald Reagan cut most funding for these centers. And since other existing community services – like schools, housing and health services – were not adapted to meet the needs of these new community members, many were left jobless, homeless and unable to get a good education.
Some people are fortunate enough to live with their families or in one of the United States’ roughly 500 private residential facilities – places that can cost up to US$60,000 a year. Others end up homeless, in poorly run facilities or even in jails.
But everyone with these disabilities is at high risk of interacting with police. Too often, these interactions go poorly.
‘Nothing about us without us’
In hopes of identifying practices that prevent avoidable deaths, I’ve been interviewing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities about their experiences with the criminal justice system. Under the terms of the academic ethics boards overseeing my research, the names of all my interview subjects are protected.
One reason police encounters can go wrong, I’ve learned, is that people with intellectual disabilities often struggle to comprehend spoken instructions – particularly in a high-stress situation.
“People who don’t have [an intellectual disability] don’t have a hard time understanding what the police are asking them to do,” one man told me. “It’s different for me.”
People with these disabilities are also often disbelieved by the police. A woman I interviewed – who communicated slowly due to her disabilities – said she called 911 on her boyfriend for hitting her. But the police believed the boyfriend’s story that she was the violent one and arrested her instead.
“When they find out that you’re not capable of understanding what’s going on, it’s a free-for-all,” another interview subject told me.
People with intellectual disabilities may struggle in court, too. When one interviewee didn’t understand a judge’s question, he told me, he was sentenced to three months in county jail for disorderly conduct.
Judges and lawyers “need to listen to people that’s on disability,” said the woman arrested after calling 911 on her abusive partner, urging patience.
Strategies for change
Recognizing that they struggle to handle people in mental crisis, many U.S. cities are making efforts to improve outcomes.
New York City trains some officers in crisis intervention and recently mandated that a social worker must accompany officers to such cases. Denver is looking to adopt a mobile crisis intervention program started in Oregon that ensures medics and crisis workers, not police, respond to mental health calls.
These and similar efforts nationwide are a step in the right direction. But my research indicates they may not go far enough.
Police frequently encounter people with psychiatric disabilities when someone calls 911 about a person acting unusually in public. If police perceive that person as potentially violent, the situation can quickly escalate.
That’s how Anthony Hill, a black veteran found wandering around his Atlanta apartment complex naked, died in 2015. Hill, who had gone off his medication, ran toward Officer Robert Olsen, who shot him. Olsen was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Nov. 1, 2019, for aggravated assault and violating his oath of office.
Nor do laws targeting police violence address the factors that lead people with mental health disabilities to need emergency assistance in the first place.
Despite growing recognition of the stigma around mental illness, people with mental health disabilities are often still feared, pitied and associated with violence in TV and movies. This social stigma can lead to societal rejection and isolation. And the difficulties people with mental health challenges face finding adequate housing, health care and employment all increase their risk of involvement with the criminal justice system.
One lesson from the history of American mental health care is that reforming just one problematic aspect of the system doesn’t work. To serve this population’s needs, other institutions – from education to housing – must also be made more flexible, responsive and accessible.
Just as shuttering institutions 60 years ago solved little, simply targeting police responses won’t suffice now, either.
This story has been updated to reflect the latest developments.
123 Black Men And Boys Killed By Police
1. Kokou Christopher FiafonouSource:Kossi Adayi 1 of 121
2. Alhaji M. SowSource:iOne Digital 2 of 121
3. Anthony Harden
3 of 121
Family of Anthony Harden sharing this photo of the 30-year-old who was shot and killed by Fall River Police yesterday, according to @BristolDA. Family says the incident should have been handled differently and that Harden should still be alive #WCVB https://t.co/p4H2TSpF10 pic.twitter.com/rZR3AXpEXO— Matt Reed (@MattReedNews) November 23, 2021
4. Andra Murphy
4 of 121
NEWS ALERT: @AttorneyCrump has released a statement and been retained by the family of Andra Murphy, a Black man who was shot and killed by Bolivar police officers outside of the Hardeman County Justice Complex on the morning of Oct. 6. pic.twitter.com/YegHc56xhn— Ben Crump Law, PLLC (@BenCrumpLaw) October 20, 2021
5. George Watson5 of 121
6. Antwan Gilmore
6 of 121
This is 27 year old Antwan Gilmore. He was killed YESTERDAY by DC police. The cop found him asleep in his car, tapped on the window, and immediately fired multiple shots and killed him. pic.twitter.com/cYUgNuR47m— Olayemi Olurin (@msolurin) August 27, 2021
7. Robert Anderson, 38
7 of 121
38 YEAR OLD DETROIT BLACK MAN SHOT IN BACK 8X AND KILLED IN CRESCENT CITY CA. OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING?— JudiWoolworthDonahue (@Gldneaple) August 27, 2021
38YR OLD ROBERT ANDERSON FROM DETROIT, MICHIGAN.
Man killed in officer-involved shooting #newsroom #community #news #ca…https://t.co/6O4kSFS7il https://t.co/ujKUbfxHzX
8. Tory Brown, 22
8 of 121
#BlackLivesMatter: 22-year-old Tory Brown was gunned down by officers who said he had a warrant out of Clayton County for violation of probation, and that he refused to comply.https://t.co/l5SWDJqQcl pic.twitter.com/ccoimuy9W9— NewsOne (@newsone) August 25, 2021
9. Ryan LeRoux, 21
9 of 121
he was only 21 years old, he refused to leave a parking lot and they shot him 24 times. his name was ryan leroux, we need to get him justice. pic.twitter.com/0C63gketSS— ezrawr (@irlquinn) July 21, 2021
10. Leneal Frazier, 40Source:Getty 10 of 121
11. Demetrius Stanley, 31
11 of 121
Demetrius Stanley was murdered by plain clothes police officers two nights ago. They came in an unmarked van and were stalking the outside of Demetrius’ family home. He went outside to check and they shot him from inside their car. They never ID themselves. #ripmeech#blackpower pic.twitter.com/qYL1GHNsho— B.L.A.C.K. Outreach (@blackoutreachsj) June 2, 2021
12. Ashton Pinke, 27
12 of 121
27-year old Ashton Pinke was shot-and-killed by Mesquite Police Department officers, today. Investigators report he charged with a “knife and a club” following a 911 hang-up call by a screaming woman. Family members question the report. Our full story airs on @FOX4 at 9/10. pic.twitter.com/SD2AAK76p3— David Sentendrey (@DavidSFOX4) May 5, 2021
13. Andrew Brown, 42
13 of 121
BREAKING: The man fatally shot by a deputy today in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, was Andrew Brown.— WAVY TV 10 (@WAVY_News) April 21, 2021
Deputies were serving a search warrant when Brown was shot while driving away, witnesses say.
Neighbors say they heard anywhere from 6 to 8 shots. https://t.co/w7dyIQ5zdX
14. Matthew Williams, 35
14 of 121
At 5 @wsbtv: the family of 35 year old Matthew Williams are demanding that body camera footage of his shooting death be released. Dekalb police shot & killed Williams at his home Monday. They say he lunged at officers with a knife. Family say he was running away from officers pic.twitter.com/Ky4ssoYTFp— Justin Gray (@JustinGrayWSB) April 14, 2021
15. Daunte Wright, 20Source:Twitter/@MeritLaw 15 of 121
16. Marvin D. Scott III, 26Source:GoFundMe 16 of 121
17. Kurt Reinhold, 42Source:Getty 17 of 121
18. McHale Rose, 19
18 of 121
JUSTICE FOR MCHALE ROSE!— Hustle House (@hustlehousellc) August 6, 2020
Mchale was killed by 4 officers within hours of the killing of Dreasjon Reed. Because of this, his story has gotten clouded and we need awareness! Mchale was a personal friend of mine and the sweetest boy ever. He & his family deserve justice! pic.twitter.com/SutjQn4fjy
19. Xzavier Hill, 18
Source:Change.org 19 of 121
Xzavier Hill's family deserves justice. Virginia laws do not require the VSP to release footage, nor to wear body cameras. He was 18, and his whole life was ahead of him.— melanie (@smellllanie) January 19, 2021
NAACP: Justice For Xzavier - Sign the Petition! https://t.co/a30fgNP9mk via @Change
20. Frederick Cox, 18Source:Facebook/Tenicka Shannon 20 of 121
21. Patrick Warren Sr.Source:Patrick Warren Jr. 21 of 121
22. Carl Dorsey III, 39
22 of 121
Man shot to death in Police involved shooting in Newark is identified as 39 year old Carl Dorsey III. https://t.co/hdtmb6w0Il— The Tornado News (@TheTornadoNews) January 6, 2021
23. Dolal Idd, 23Source:GoFundMe 23 of 121
24. Andre' Hill, 47
24 of 121
An attorney who has represented the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor says he is now working for the family of Andre' Hill, the man killed by a Columbus police officer early Tuesday.https://t.co/9yXaqYKHfu— NBC4 Columbus (@nbc4i) December 24, 2020
25. Joshua Feast
25 of 121
Joshua Feast was fatally shot in the BACK by La Marque PD officer Jose Santos as he was running away, posing no threat. Witnesses report Santos refused to render aid to Joshua after shooting him AND then kicked his body, already debilitated by the bullet. #JusticeForJoshuaFeast pic.twitter.com/zO46PCsGzO— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) December 12, 2020
26. Maurice GordonSource:Mercury LLC 26 of 121
27. Casey Goodson Jr.Source:Walton + Brown, LLP 27 of 121
28. Rodney ApplewhiteSource:Ben Crump 28 of 121
29. A.J. Crooms
29 of 121
A Florida sheriff's officer shot and killed two Black teens, A.J. Crooms and Sincere Pierce.— AJ+ (@ajplus) November 19, 2020
Here's what we know so far: pic.twitter.com/A8FRNS93L6
30. Sincere Pierce
30 of 121
MOTHER SPEAKS: Cynthia Green of #Cocoa speaks out about her son 18 yr old Sincere Pierce, shot and killed in deputy involved double shooting last Friday. Says she isn’t getting answers and still hasn’t seen her son’s body. @MyNews13 #News13Brevard pic.twitter.com/hYFxZEOqz6— Greg Pallone (@gpallone13) November 17, 2020
31. Walter Wallace Jr.31 of 121
32. Marcellis Stinnette, teen killed by police in Waukegan, IllinoisSource:Twitter 32 of 121
33. Jonathan Price
33 of 121
The Texas police officer who fatally shot Jonathan Price has been arrested and charged with murder. His bail has been set at 1 million dollars. I'm glad. RIP Jonathan, rest in power. pic.twitter.com/Mw5GMQX0Eb— ~𝓣𝓮𝓷𝓪𝓬𝓲𝓸𝓾𝓼 𝓣𝓮𝓪𝓱~ (@TeahCartel) October 6, 2020
34. Deon Kay34 of 121
35. Daniel Prude
35 of 121
The killing of Daniel Prude by Rochester police officers is unacceptable, and we need real answers for why this happened and why it took so long to come out.— Jeremy Cooney (@JeremyCooneyROC) September 2, 2020
Trained medical professionals should respond to mental health crises, not armed officers. pic.twitter.com/EPhH9inn1x
36. Damian Daniels
36 of 121
Yesterday in SA cops killed Sergeant Damian Lamar Daniels in front of his home. His family asked the Red Cross to get him to the VA.— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) August 27, 2020
He had a legal gun on his hip that he never removed. He didn’t want to go and he struggled when they tried to force him.
So they killed him. pic.twitter.com/q6U7OSXb6D
37. Dijon Kizzee
37 of 121
This is #DijonKizzee, 29 yrs old and shot and killed by LA Sheriffs after being stopped for a bike violation. Cops handcuffed his lifeless body. While police investigations can drag on for months/years, cops have already claimed he ran away, and dropped clothes and a gun. #BLM pic.twitter.com/pM6mQfWLeQ— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) September 1, 2020
38. Trayford PellerinSource:GoFundMe 38 of 121
39. David McAtee
39 of 121
in an attempt to disperse crowds, #DavidMcAtee, a louisville bbq chef known for serving cops free meals, was shot and killed by the police last night. he was unarmed. not only were the officers’ bodycams off, but they also left his body on the street for 12 hours.— adaliah 🇹🇬 (@adxlls) June 2, 2020
say his name. pic.twitter.com/kqOPku8iuQ
40. Natosha “Tony” McDade40 of 121
41. George Floyd41 of 121
42. Yassin Mohamed42 of 121
43. Finan H. Berhe
43 of 121
Montgomery County Police Tweet Video Of Cop Shooting Finan H. Berhe In Maryland https://t.co/HzNV24ZpZB— The Bishop Speaks (@JMcCorrySpeaks) May 9, 2020
44. Sean ReedSource:Twitter 44 of 121
45. Steven Demarco TaylorSource:S. Lee Merritt 45 of 121
46. Ariane McCreeSource:The Herald/YouTube 46 of 121
47. Terrance Franklin47 of 121
48. Miles HallSource:KRON4 48 of 121
49. Darius TarverSource:S. Lee Merritt 49 of 121
50. William Green
50 of 121
They murdered my cousin. How do you have someone in handcuffs and in a seat belt and shoot them multilpe times.All cops aren't bad but those were. I will fight with the last breath in me for justice. William Green was a family man, a working man. Funny. Loving. Love and miss you. pic.twitter.com/PhM3a6C7uj— Liv 👸🏾 (@liv__03) January 28, 2020
51. Samuel David Mallard, 19
51 of 121
This is a 2019 mugshot of the murder suspect Cobb police shot & killed today. Samuel Mallard, 19, was previously arrested for impersonating officers a half dozen times. In the 2020 case, the GBI says he’s involved in a murder/robbery. CCPD says there are other suspects. @wsbtv https://t.co/7EfuVQLmNB pic.twitter.com/ttWg5HjFkj— Chris Jose (@ChrisJoseWSB) January 17, 2020
52. Kwame "KK" Jones, 17Source:facebook 52 of 121
53. De’von Bailey, 19
53 of 121
Grand jury rules fatal officers' shooting of Devon Bailey was justified. https://t.co/MHXYQn87aH— Scott Kilbury (@SKilburyFOX21) November 14, 2019
54. Christopher Whitfield, 3154 of 121
55. Anthony Hill, 2655 of 121
56. De'Von Bailey, 1956 of 121
57. Eric Logan, 54
57 of 121
BREAKING NEWS OUT OF SOUTH BEND:— Joshua Short (@JoshuaShortTV) June 27, 2019
Two lawyers representing the estate of 54-year-old Eric Logan, who was shot and killed by a South Bend police officer, have sued that officer, Sgt. Ryan O'Neill and Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
The suit was filed in federal court today.
(READ THREAD) pic.twitter.com/frOpKFQIAV
58. Jamarion Robinson, 2658 of 121
59. Gregory Hill Jr., 30
59 of 121
Gregory Hill, Jr. - the family of Greg Hill grants permission to use these photos to honor Greg or tell his story. pic.twitter.com/uhn1RbEQBv— John M. Phillips (@JohnPhillips) June 1, 2018
60. JaQuavion Slaton, 20
60 of 121
This is Jaquavion Slaton, the 20-year-old who was was shot & killed by Fort Worth Police on Sunday. Community demanding release of body camera video, but FWPD hasn’t said when/if that will happen. #WFAA pic.twitter.com/iakQyWrRCl— Teresa Woodard (@twoodard8) June 10, 2019
61. Ryan Twyman, 2461 of 121
62. Brandon Webber, 2062 of 121
63. Jimmy Atchison, 21
63 of 121
64. Willie McCoy, 20
64 of 121
One of six officers who fired at Willie McCoy had killed unarmed man in 2018 || Via: Guardian https://t.co/CjrSIa8r1Z— SafetyPin-Daily (@SafetyPinDaily) February 23, 2019
65. Emantic "EJ" Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., 2165 of 121
66. D’ettrick Griffin, 1866 of 121
67. Jemel Roberson, 26
Source:false 67 of 121
Security guard Jemel Roberson was holding down a shooting suspect when police burst in and shot Roberson instead. pic.twitter.com/zNsYvQMRg8— HuffPost (@HuffPost) November 14, 2018
68. DeAndre Ballard, 23Source:false 68 of 121
69. Botham Shem Jean, 26
Source:false 69 of 121
The young man who was killed by a Dallas police officer in his own apartment this morning has been identified as 26-year-old Botham Jean. He worked at the PwC firm in Downtown Dallas. https://t.co/oyjHMdMXVv pic.twitter.com/uSvJWJ062e— FOX 4 NEWS (@FOX4) September 7, 2018
70. Antwon Rose Jr., 17Source:false 70 of 121
71. Robert Lawrence White, 41Source:false 71 of 121
72. Anthony Lamar Smith, 24Source:Getty 72 of 121
73. Ramarley Graham, 18Source:Getty 73 of 121
74. Manuel Loggins Jr., 31Source:Getty 74 of 121
75. Trayvon Martin, 17Source:Getty 75 of 121
76. Wendell Allen, 20Source:Getty 76 of 121
77. Kendrec McDade, 19Source:Getty 77 of 121
78. Larry Jackson Jr., 32Source:Getty 78 of 121
79. Jonathan Ferrell, 24Source:Getty 79 of 121
80. Jordan Baker, 26Source:Getty 80 of 121
81. Victor White lll, 22Source:Getty 81 of 121
82. Dontre Hamilton, 31Source:Getty 82 of 121
83. Eric Garner, 43Source:Getty 83 of 121
84. John Crawford lll, 22Source:Getty 84 of 121
85. Michael Brown, 18Source:Getty 85 of 121
86. Ezell Ford, 25Source:Getty 86 of 121
87. Dante Parker, 36Source:Getty 87 of 121
88. Kajieme Powell, 25Source:Getty 88 of 121
89. Laquan McDonald, 17Source:Getty 89 of 121
90. Akai Gurley, 28Source:Getty 90 of 121
91. Tamir Rice, 12Source:Getty 91 of 121
92. Rumain Brisbon, 34Source:Getty 92 of 121
93. Jerame Reid, 36Source:Getty 93 of 121
94. Charly Keunang, 43Source:Getty 94 of 121
95. Tony Robinson, 19Source:Getty 95 of 121
96. Walter Scott, 50Source:Getty 96 of 121
97. Freddie Gray, 25Source:Getty 97 of 121
98. Brendon Glenn, 29Source:Getty 98 of 121
99. Samuel DuBose, 43Source:Getty 99 of 121
100. Christian Taylor, 19Source:Getty 100 of 121
101. Jamar Clark, 24Source:Getty 101 of 121
102. Mario Woods, 26Source:Getty 102 of 121
103. Quintonio LeGrier, 19Source:Getty 103 of 121
104. Gregory Gunn, 58Source:Getty 104 of 121
105. Akiel Denkins, 24Source:Getty 105 of 121
106. Alton Sterling, 37Source:Getty 106 of 121
107. Philando Castile, 32Source:Getty 107 of 121
108. Terrence Sterling, 31Source:Getty 108 of 121
109. Terence Crutcher, 40Source:Getty 109 of 121
110. Keith Lamont Scott, 43Source:Getty 110 of 121
111. Alfred Olango, 38Source:Getty 111 of 121
112. Jordan Edwards, 15Source:Getty 112 of 121
113. Stephon Clark, 22Source:false 113 of 121
114. Danny Ray Thomas, 34
Source:false 114 of 121
115. DeJuan Guillory, 27Source:false 115 of 121
116. Patrick Harmon, 50
116 of 121
Patrick Harmon was shot and killed by police in Salt Lake City, Utah. The district attorney says the shooting was "legally justified." pic.twitter.com/zYBOwlTzRb— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 7, 2017
117. Jonathan Hart, 21
117 of 121
Friends and family of Jonathan Heart aka Sky Young, a young #homeless man killed last Sunday at a Walgreens in #Hollywood for allegedly shoplifting, gather tonight to remember the 20-year-old. pic.twitter.com/uiMRiFnutq— Jasmyne Cannick (@Jasmyne) December 9, 2018
118. Maurice Granton, 24
118 of 121
Dash cam footage of police killing Maurice Granton Jr. has been released. His family says it proves that he was unarmed pic.twitter.com/YLAM7my1ny— NowThis (@nowthisnews) July 26, 2018
119. Julius Johnson, 23
119 of 121
120. Jamee Johnson, 22Source:S. Lee Merritt 120 of 121
121. Michael Dean, 28Source:S. Lee Merritt 121 of 121
How To Stop Cops From Killing People Suffering From Mental Illness was originally published on newsone.com