Last week, a video showing two St. Louis police officers striking a mentally ill man went viral, and has since sparked widespread attention. The video is also raising previously posed questions about the ways law enforcement deals with the mentally ill.
The incident involved a local man with a history of mentally illness who was confronted by the officers after family members called police. The man had reportedly been acting erratically. After the graphic video surfaced online, residents and advocates have put the spotlight on police interactions with the mentally ill, and have called for changes in procedures.
The St. Louis Police Department announced that it has begun investigating the incident and that the responding officers had both undergone Crisis Intervention team training. Such training is designed to improve officers' skills for determining whether an individual is suffering from a mental health condition, and subsequently how to de-escalate difficult situations. The incident comes just a month after a series of protects were ignited after a mentally ill homeless man was shot by police in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In many cases, encounters between law enforcement and mentally ill become strained because mentally ill don't respond to police in a way most people would. According to our own St. Louis criminal defense attorney Nicole Chiravollatti, "our jails and prisons have become modern-day versions of psychiatric hospitals, but unfortunately, police officers and correctional officers are not trained psychiatrists and mentally ill individuals are not receiving the treatment they need. There are 'mental health' courts throughout the state of Missouri, which is a step in the right direction, but we have a long way to go on the issue."
At The Hammer Law Firm, our legal team is passionate about advocating for fair treatment within our criminal justice system, and protecting the rights of the criminally accused, no matter who they may be. If you or your loved one have questions about your rights during or after an arrest, as well as your defense, our firm can help. Call 314-334-3807 for a FREE consultation.