According to reports, the man who was shot and killed by NYPD officers on Roosevelt Island was in the midst of a mental health crisis. The incident occurred after officers received multiple 911 calls reporting that the man was threatening his family with a knife in their apartment building. The tragic outcome highlights the need for better resources and training for law enforcement to handle mental health crises.
The state Attorney General’s office released a video footage capturing the viewpoints of four NYPD officers at the scene. The footage shows three officers entering the building’s elevator, one holding a riot shield, at around 11:30 p.m. on August 4. Meanwhile, the fourth officer stayed in the lobby with a Roosevelt Island Public Safety Department officer.
As the man stepped forward, the video captured Mehr rapidly firing a series of gunshots while Mazza also fired a single shot. The footage shows the intense and quick reaction of the officers in the face of potential danger.
There is uncertainty surrounding whether Virella-Abreu discharged her firearm after using her taser, as the footage does not provide a clear answer. However, it is confirmed that she did draw her gun during the incident.
Virella-Abreu quickly intervened and firmly pushed Mehr’s raised arm down. “Hold on, hold on, hold on,” she exclaimed, ensuring the situation did not escalate.
According to the authorities, the individual was declared deceased at a nearby medical facility at 12:28 a.m.
During a press conference held last month, NYPD’s Assistant Chief Christine Bastedenbeck of Patrol for Borough Queens North revealed that a family member of the man in question had informed 911 dispatchers that he was not taking his medication and was under the influence of marijuana.
According to a spokesperson from the NYPD, officers are equipped with the necessary training to handle individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. The department has made it a priority to provide crisis intervention training to a significant number of its members. Recruits at the NYPD Academy are also taught about mental illness and effective communication methods, ensuring they are prepared to handle any situation.
As per legal obligations, the Attorney General’s office is investigating the incident and evaluating all the police killings. The department recently saw the addition of Mehr, Virella-Abreu, and Mazza, who joined between 2018 and 2020.
According to police records, Mehr received training from the NYPD on effectively handling individuals in a state of crisis. This training involved completing a video series and two audio modules.
During her training, Virella-Abreu underwent the same crisis response program as Mehr. However, she also attended two additional sessions, one focused on the importance of “sending the right signals.”
In recent years, there have been several police shootings that have raised concerns about excessive use of force. One such incident occurred in March when Raul de la Cruz was shot outside his father’s Bronx apartment building during a schizophrenic episode in which he was holding a knife. Similarly 2018, Kawaski Trawick was fatally shot inside his apartment while owning a butter knife and stick. Despite being unarmed, Saheed Vassell was also shot and killed in Brooklyn that same year. These incidents have sparked public outcry and calls for police reform.
Responding to mental health emergencies involving weapons is challenging for the city as it seeks to avoid using force.
In certain situations, the city has dispatched mobile crisis teams of nurses, social workers, and psychiatrists to handle mental health emergencies. Meanwhile, individuals with mental illness have advocated for an increase in budget and staff for the 988 crisis hotline. This would replace the 911 system as the primary method for reporting mental health crises in New York City.
- Model and boyfriend shot near Home Depot parking lot in Brooklyn following apparent parking dispute.
- Man dies in hospital after being discovered with gunshot wounds on the Westside of Jacksonville.
- Three African-Americans Fatally Shot in Jacksonville Dollar General in Hate Crime