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Welfare Checks Turn Deadly: You Might Want to Think Twice Before Calling the Cops

John W. Whitehead
September 27th, 2019
The Rutherford Institute
Comments (23)

This article was originally published by John W. Whitehead at the Rutherford Institute. 

“Anyone who cares for someone with a developmental disability, as well as for disabled people themselves [lives] every day in fear that their behavior will be misconstrued as suspicious, intoxicated or hostile by law enforcement.”—Steve Silberman, The New York Times

Think twice before you call the cops to carry out a welfare check on a loved one.

Especially if that person is autistic, hearing impaired, mentally ill, elderly, suffering from dementia, disabled or might have a condition that hinders their ability to understand, communicate or immediately comply with an order.

Particularly if you value that person’s life.

At a time when growing numbers of unarmed people are being shot and killed for just standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something—anything—that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or igniting some trigger-centric fear in a police officer’s mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety, even the most benign encounters with police can have fatal consequences.

Unfortunately, police—trained in the worst-case scenario and thus ready to shoot first and ask questions later—increasingly pose a risk to anyone undergoing a mental health crisis or with special needs whose disabilities may not be immediately apparent or require more finesse than the typical freeze-or-I’ll-shoot tactics employed by America’s police forces.

Just recently, in fact, Gay Plack, a 57-year-old Virginia woman with bipolar disorder, was killed after two police officers—sent to do a welfare check on her—entered her home uninvited, wandered through the house shouting her name, kicked open her locked bedroom door, discovered the terrified woman hiding in a dark bathroom and wielding a small ax, and four seconds later, shot her in the stomach.

Four seconds.

That’s all the time it took for the two police officers assigned to check on Plack to decide to use lethal force against her (both cops opened fire on the woman), rather than using non-lethal options (one cop had a Taser, which he made no attempt to use) or attempting to de-escalate the situation.

The police chief defended his officers’ actions, claiming they had “no other option” but to shoot the 5 foot 4-inch “woman with carpal tunnel syndrome who had to quit her job at a framing shop because her hand was too weak to use the machine that cut the mats.”

This is what happens when you empower the police to act as judge, jury, and executioner.

This is what happens when you indoctrinate the police into believing that their lives and their safety are paramount to anyone else’s.

Suddenly, everyone and everything else is a threat that must be neutralized or eliminated.

In light of the government’s latest efforts to predict who might pose a threat to public safety based on mental health sensor data (tracked by wearable data such as FitBits and Apple Watches and monitored by government agencies such as HARPA, the “Health Advanced Research Projects Agency”), encounters with the police could get even more deadly, especially if those involved have a mental illness or disability.

Indeed, disabled individuals make up a third to half of all people killed by law enforcement officers.

That’s according to a study by the Ruderman Family Foundation,  which reports that “disabled individuals make up the majority of those killed in use-of-force cases that attract widespread attention. This is true both for cases deemed illegal or against policy and for those in which officers are ultimately fully exonerated… Many more disabled civilians experience non-lethal violence and abuse at the hands of law enforcement officers.”

For instance, Nancy Schrock called 911 for help after her husband, Tom, who suffered from mental health issues, started stalking around the backyard, upending chairs and screaming about demons. Several times before, police had transported Tom to the hospital, where he was medicated and sent home after 72 hours. This time, Tom was tasered twice. He collapsed, lost consciousness and died.

In South Carolina, police tasered an 86-year-old grandfather reportedly in the early stages of dementia, while he was jogging backward away from them. Now, this happened after Albert Chatfield led police on a car chase, running red lights and turning randomly. However, at the point that police chose to shock the old man with electric charges, he was out of the car, on his feet, and outnumbered by police officers much younger than him.

In Georgia, campus police shot and killed a 21-year-old student who was suffering a mental health crisis. Scout Schultz was shot through the heart by campus police when he approached four of them late one night while holding a pocketknife, shouting “Shoot me!” Although police may have feared for their lives, the blade was still in its closed position.

In Oklahoma, police shot and killed a 35-year-old deaf man seen holding a two-foot metal pipe on his front porch (he used the pipe to fend off stray dogs while walking). Despite the fact that witnesses warned police that Magdiel Sanchez couldn’t hear—and thus comply—with their shouted orders to drop the pipe and get on the ground, police shot the man when he was about 15 feet away from them.

In Maryland, police (moonlighting as security guards) used extreme force to eject a 26-year-old man with Downs Syndrome and a low IQ from a movie theater after the man insisted on sitting through the second screening of a film. Autopsy results indicate that Ethan Saylor died of complications arising from asphyxiation, likely caused by a chokehold.

In Florida, police armed with assault rifles fired three shots at a 27-year-old nonverbal, autistic man who was sitting on the ground, playing with a toy truck. Police missed the autistic man and instead shot his behavioral therapist, Charles Kinsey, who had been trying to get him back to his group home. The therapist, bleeding from a gunshot wound, was then handcuffed and left lying face down on the ground for 20 minutes.

In Texas, police handcuffed, tasered and then used a baton to subdue a 7-year-old student who has severe ADHD and a mood disorder. With school counselors otherwise occupied, school officials called the police and the child’s mother to assist after Yosio Lopez started banging his head on a wall. The police arrived first.

In New Mexico, police tasered, then opened fire on a 38-year-old homeless man who suffered from schizophrenia, all in an attempt to get James Boyd to leave a makeshift campsite. Boyd’s death provoked a wave of protests over heavy-handed law enforcement tactics.

In Ohio, police forcefully subdued a 37-year-old bipolar woman wearing only a nightgown in near-freezing temperatures who was neither armed, violent, intoxicated nor suspected of criminal activity. After being slammed onto the sidewalk, handcuffed and left unconscious on the street, Tanisha Anderson died as a result of being restrained in a prone position.

And in North Carolina, a state trooper shot and killed a 29-year-old deaf motorist after he failed to pull over during a traffic stop. Daniel K. Harris was shot after exiting his car, allegedly because the trooper feared he might be reaching for a weapon.

These cases, and the hundreds—if not thousands—more that go undocumented every year speak to a crisis in policing when it comes to law enforcement’s failure to adequately assess, de-escalate and manage encounters with special needs or disabled individuals.

While the research is relatively scant, what has been happening is telling.

Over the course of six months, police shot and killed someone who was in mental crisis every 36 hours.

Among 124 police killings analyzed by The Washington Post in which mental illness appeared to be a factor, “They were overwhelmingly men, more than half of them white. Nine in 10 were armed with some kind of weapon, and most died close to home.”

But there were also important distinctions, reports the Post.

This group was more likely to wield a weapon less lethal than a firearm. Six had toy guns; 3 in 10 carried a blade, such as a knife or a machete — weapons that rarely prove deadly to police officers. According to data maintained by the FBI and other organizations, only three officers have been killed with an edged weapon in the past decade. Nearly a dozen of the mentally distraught people killed were military veterans, many of them suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their service, according to police or family members. Another was a former California Highway Patrol officer who had been forced into retirement after enduring a severe beating during a traffic stop that left him suffering from depression and PTSD. And in 45 cases, police were called to help someone get medical treatment, or after the person had tried and failed to get treatment on his own.

The U.S. Supreme Court, as might be expected, has thus far continued to immunize police against charges of wrongdoing when it comes to use of force against those with a mental illness.

In a 2015 ruling, the Court declared that police could not be sued for forcing their way into a mentally ill woman’s room at a group home and shooting her five times when she advanced on them with a knife. The justices did not address whether police must take special precautions when arresting mentally ill individuals. (The Americans with Disabilities Act requires “reasonable accommodations” for people with mental illnesses, which in this case might have been less confrontational tactics.)

Where does this leave us?

For starters, we need better police training across the board, but especially when it comes to de-escalation tactics and crisis intervention.

A study by the National Institute of Mental Health found that CIT (Crisis Intervention Team)-trained officers made fewer arrests, used less force, and connected more people with mental-health services than their non-trained peers.

As The Washington Post points out:

“Although new recruits typically spend nearly 60 hours learning to handle a gun, according to a recent survey by the Police Executive Research Forum, they receive only eight hours of training to de-escalate tense situations and eight hours learning strategies for handling the mentally ill. Otherwise, police are taught to employ tactics that tend to be counterproductive in such encounters, experts said. For example, most officers are trained to seize control when dealing with an armed suspect, often through stern, shouted commands. But yelling and pointing guns is ‘like pouring gasoline on a fire when you do that with the mentally ill,’ said Ron Honberg, policy director with the National Alliance on Mental Illness.”

Second, police need to learn how to slow confrontations down, instead of ramping up the tension (and the noise).

In Maryland, police recruits are now required to take a four-hour course in which they learn “de-escalation tactics” for dealing with disabled individuals: speak calmly, give space, be patient.

One officer in charge of the Los Angeles Police Department’s “mental response teams” suggests that instead of rushing to take someone into custody, police should try to slow things down and persuade the person to come with them.

Third, with all the questionable funds flowing to police departments these days, why not use some of those funds to establish what one disability-rights activist describes as “a 911-type number dedicated to handling mental-health emergencies, with community crisis-response teams at the ready rather than police officers.”

In the end, while we need to make encounters with police officers safer for people with suffering from mental illness or with disabilities, what we really need—as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People—is to make encounters with police safer for all individuals all across the board.

John W. Whitehead is that author of Battlefield America: The War On The American People. This book details how the police forces across the United States have been transformed into extensions of the military. Our towns and cities have become battlefields, and we the American people are now the enemy combatants to be spied on. tracked, frisked, and searched. For those who resist, the consequences can be a one-way trip to jail or even death. Battlefield America: The War on the American People is constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead’s terrifying portrait of a nation at war with itself. In exchange for safe schools and lower crime rates, we have opened the doors to militarized police, zero-tolerance policies in schools, and SWAT team raids. The insidious shift was so subtle that most of us had no idea it was happening. This follow-up to Whitehead’s award-winning A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, is a brutal critique of an America on the verge of destroying the very freedoms that define it. Hands up!―the police state has arrived.

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Author: John W. Whitehead
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Date: September 27th, 2019
Website: https://www.rutherford.org

Copyright Information: This content has been contributed to SHTFplan by a third-party or has been republished with permission from the author. Please contact the author directly for republishing information.

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23 Comments...

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  1. I’m not worried, I have direct deposit. And make sure my SNAP/EBT card isn’t tampered with.

  2. asshat says:

    cmon we all know the brown shirts are our friends here to protect us. they could leave your corpse to rot but they were kind enuff to see you got to the medical examiner. what more do you want.

  3. Clown World says:

    I have mentally unstable neighbors. Want the address?

  4. aljamo says:

    The best killers the government can buy, authorize and legitimize unleashed on the public. Putting the cart in front of the horse in making the people the enemy of the state. Obviously this direction won’t be reversed as the crimes against the public are priority number one from the criminal government protecting their ongoing tyranny. A democracy it is not.

    • The Deplorable Renegade says:

      Aljamo, good points but I don’t see any legitimate basis for law enforcement nowadays considering what they’ve become. Even the so-called criminal justice system has lost whatever legitimacy it ever had. Government employees on high horses who think they’re better than anyone else. They’re above the same laws we’re all expected to follow. Civil asset forfeiture is the most illegitimate part of what they call ‘police work’. It’s only used against people who never face any kind of charges whatsoever and the burden of proof is on them to show they didn’t obtain the money illegally. Cops already earn good money without even counting what they steal from people. Everyone in the system and their most hardcore supporters think it’s OK to steal people’s property based on nothing more than a mere suspicion. I can promise that no one would be taking anything from me without showing me some legitimate basis for the proposed action. If the same person wants to force the issue then he needs to be ready for a trip to the emergency room because I won’t submit. Play with fire and you definitely get burned. One day we’re going to be forced into conflict with cops but they’ll lose because they don’t have the numbers on their side.

      • bb in GA says:

        DR

        The Five -Oh is not likely going to come to your BOL to seize your property where you might be able to make a credible ‘Last Stand’ and take some with you.

        No, they will get you by the side of the road where you are likely to be less well armed. They literally have the drop on you.

        They end up going through your pockets or your trunk based on some flimsy excuse that they smell something or whatever and seize your cash or stuff.

        That’s how it usually goes down.

        So unless you are willing to “Launch on Warning” on the officer(s) when they approach your car (for which you would get almost no public or legal support) then you are at a serious disadvantage in any such meeting.

        <bb

  5. Kevin2 says:

    If one thinks this is bad now, when the public is largely passive, imagine a Great Depression environment with significant civilian unrest? There are few things you can bank on. One of them is the governments use of force as an instrument of policy coupled with the American psychology of more is better.

  6. The Deplorable Renegade says:

    Kevin2, it’s sad but true. The trend is definitely towards more hatred and use of deadly force against the public. When the balloon finally goes up the last thing I want to be is a cop in uniform out among the general public. I suspect a huge percentage of them if not all will disappear quickly in any SHTF event.

  7. Kevin2 says:

    I would expect the public in event of say out of control inflation (a topic that has been debated at length) to physically likely protest in a disorganized manner. The organized protests, like ANTIFA, are reserved for the money interests backing them. If they’re organized something is up that is underlying nefarious. These ad hoc protests will drawl many who formerly never got involved in such activity since maybe the 60s in some cases. It’s reasonable to assume that the authorities desiring the use of significant fearful force to quell the “rebellion” would go to the old standby “agent provocateurs” to “justify” a heavy hand. If any real violence happens I don’t believe that the public, law abiding since childhood, will be the real culprit. If such violence from protesters is disproportionately shown in the Media and embellished by the same they’re demonizing the protesters.

    Over time, with minimal study, you can see right through these repetitious actions.

  8. Welfare checks and red flag laws were designed to do exactly that. Shoot first and don’t worry about the facts. And they whine about getting shot at.

  9. rellik says:

    The last thing you ever want to do is call or talk to cops.
    Where I live we mostly know where the cops live, and generally our cops are much better behaved. Heck the cops cry when they have to deal with Aunties and Uncles breaking many laws protesting and obstructing the TMT observatory.
    In big cities that is not the case, cops there are no better than south American “death squads”. Treat them as such.

  10. Kevin2 says:

    rellik

    City cops? Keep away from them. Philadelphia cops are especially nasty.

    1988, Penns Landing area, looking for “South Street” a social hub of clubs, shops, and food. Walking, dressed nice with a tie, with a date that was likewise nicely and conservatively attired with neither of us having had a drink I approached one of Phila’s finest and inquired, “Excuse me officer but which way is South Street”? The reply, “Do I look like a road map to you”? My reply, “No sir”; I looked down and walked a good distance away before whispered to my GF, “Can you believe that”, not daring to be overheard.

  11. Wake up Sleeping Sheep says:

    If you call Police to “help” someone.
    Then you have just “swatted” the person needing help.
    You have likely condemned them to arrest at minimum, or being Murdered by thugs in blue.

    Never turn violent heavily armed, wanna be’s, mostly cowards, with inferiority complexes, sadist who like to bully, with no accountability, with no common sense, loose on a person needing assistance. Why would you do such a thing?

    Police are not there to help you.
    Police don’t care about your problem or situation. It pisses them off to have to make a call out. You will get nothing but attitude from them. Most likely YOU will end up in cuffs, arrested, charged, beaten, or Murdered. Police are mostly Armed nutjobs with ZERO accountability for their criminal acts and violence.

    Never call Police for ANY reason. If you do then you are an idiot with NO understanding about the current times.

    It will only get worse. Much worse.
    This is just the beggining of the HELL that Politicians and Tech monopoly bullies, mega corporations, have in store for you.

    * You have communist attempting a coup d’ tat/witch hunt, on elected president Trump. Endless “investigations”.
    * NONE of the bought and paid for politicians represent you.
    * The NWO Commies/ Foreigners, have been ALLOWED to rule over you. Is the US sold out?
    * Politicians, judges and Police are paid off by Mexican drug cartels.
    * Open Borders are Allowed by paid off politicians BECAUSE they want drugs, criminals, and bad actors to come into our country. Politicians are intentionally ALLOWING this.
    * Mass media is controlled by NWO communist collectivist and foreigners. 24/7 communist propaganda is the Mass media brain washers of sheep.
    * Tech bully monopolies control-censor-ban-delist anyone not a leftist. NO FREE SPEECH. Just bully control freaks tech pukes.
    * There are marked China National Police cars openly running around in California. This is no joke. This is happening now.
    * Regional correctional facilities are murdering Americans and harvesting their body parts in Newton, Kansas. Other places too?

    5g kill weapon is being deployed now.
    This is not the future. This is the Now.
    Wake up to your Present.
    Your future will be Hell.

    -commenting policy is censorship-

  12. mentally ill /ptsd/crazy can klll you says:

    I work at a mental facility so have experience with these people. They can be more dangerous than the average person because of their ‘ disability” They don;t reason things out . they don;t take orders, they see things differently or are under or over medicated. . So yea they get tasered , or shot more than the average. Try walking in the shoes of the cop before you criticise.

  13. Rock Roller says:

    Years ago my stepdaughter and her male roommate ( they were both around 19) got into an argument. It was never physical,just a verbal altercation between two kids and one of them threatened to call the cops(the male roommate, the sissy), the stepdaughter said go ahead so the police were called. Both kids went to jail, both charged with domestic abuse and disorderly conduct ! Neither one laid a finger on the other one, no property was damaged, yet the kids had a few thousand in fines each, and jail for a night. Welcome to the Illegal injustice system. I told the stepdaughter, ” Now do you see why I’ve told you for years, NEVER, EVER,CALL OR INVOLVE THE POLICE !!” If she didn’t understand why then, she sure as hell does now.

  14. Anonymous says:

    We should show these fine law enforcement officers the same understanding and compassion they have shown these people in need. It is only fitting!

  15. Anonymous says:

    The police chief defended his officers’ actions, claiming they had “no other option” but to shoot the 5 foot 4-inch “woman with carpal tunnel syndrome who had to quit her job at a framing shop because her hand was too weak to use the machine that cut the mats.”

    Fixable. Put the “police chief” in the same shoes as the relatives. Call in a welfare check to where the police chief’s daughter is staying. I bet the police chief would not use the “no other option” excuse if it was his own daughter.

  16. pissed off patriot says:

    13 comments from 8 people and you blocked mine. Time for me to move on. Nothing I said was out of bound. Maybe Mac’s playing the left these days.

    • Bad Religion says:

      Mr. pop,
      welcome to your “change”. Your ‘changed” Amerikka.
      welcome to your no longer “net neutral” internet.
      welcome to censorship
      welcome to being banned, shadow banned, delisted.
      welcome to No Freedom. No Liberty. No Justice. No free Speech. No open dialog. No conversation.

      Aren’t you paying attention to you lefty NWO colectivist media “programming?”:
      You will be Politically correct.
      You will Offend no one. You will not be “offensive”.
      You will accept Any insanity, any disgusting act, any criminal act, as long as it is “lefty NWO collectivist”/Media/ Bought off politician, approved.
      “You will stand for nothing.”
      You will be agreeable with Everything and Anything, as long as that is the lefty NWO collectivist “media programming” of the moment narrative.

      You will be “inclusive.”
      You will be “diverse”.
      You will “accept”.

      Like your new “changed” Amerikka?
      Like your new “changed” Internet?

      It will only get worse. Much worse. Welcome to the control grid. Welcome to the Beast System. Of course the lefty, queers, NWO collectivist, anti-God, acid micro dose druggies, Tech monopoly bullies, will decide who speaks or disagrees.

      They will also decide if you have a job or not.
      They will decide in the cashless society, if your cashless digital accounts are cut off.
      You will be disarmed. For your “safety”. For the “children”.
      Of course you will be tracked, traced, survielled, 24/7 by any and ALL technology you use or allow in your life.

      This is your Present and very near Future.
      So what are you going to do about it?
      “Despite All Your Rage, You Are Still Just a Rat in the (digital) Cage.”

      “ALL TECHNOLOGY is to ALLOW the FEW to controll the Many.”

      The Final Solution the Tyrants will use against those that disagree, is 5g kill weapon, contaminated vaccines, GMO food, Famine, Disease, War, made up events, false flags, Genocide.

      IF A MAN STANDS FOR NOTHING? Believes in nothing, THEN HE WILL ACCEPT ANYTHING.

      Read you KJV Bible. Everything you need to know about “current times” is there. Black rifles will not save you. Jesus Christ is your Only hope. The “word” of God is the Armour of the Christian God that can prevent you from being decieved.

  17. Probably the easiest way to murder someone and get away with it. Call the cops for a welfare check!

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