Police Violence: Half of Those Who Get Killed Have a Mental Illness

John McManamy Health Guide
  • Warning: If you get upset over reports in the news media, particularly over recent events. I strongly suggest you give this post a miss. Take care of yourself, be well. We’ll catch up next time.


    Trust me, I did not want to write this. I recently returned from a spiritually refreshing road trip to highly disturbing reports of the police shooting a young man to death in Ferguson, MO.


    Note, I did not say, young black man. Yes, the issue is racial. But the bigger issue has to do with irresponsible police power. We have grown accustomed to it. We accept it. We make excuses. In the process, we dehumanize and demonize the victims and the social groups they belong to.

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    We have certainly seen enough of that going on. 


    A few days later, a video surfaced of two police getting out of their car and gunning down a man in St Louis. Amazingly, the police chief defended the actions of his officers.


    Cast your mind back to three posts I published here at HealthCentral in April. These stemmed from the police in Albuquerque, NM gunning down a homeless man with a history of mental illness. The event was caught on video. It was an execution in cold blood. Amazingly, the police chief justified the outrage.


    The police and the FBI distinguish between “justified” and “unjustified” killings. Basically, if a police officer fires a weapon, it is justified. The Justice Department keeps no official numbers, but according to media investigations I cited in my second piece, “at least half of the estimated 375 to 500 people shot and killed by police each year in this country have mental health problems.”


    According to my own research, these numbers exceed the rate of lynchings in the South back in the day.


    In my last piece of the series, I proposed disarming the police. This is based on my living for eleven years in New Zealand, where the police (except for special units) do not carry firearms. Yes, the police there are prone to abusing their authority, just like anywhere else, but at least when they do, no one gets killed.


    If someone pulls out a knife, if someone has a bad attitude or just looks funny, there are other options than shooting to kill.


    I also cited two landmark studies - the Millgram Experiment and the Stanford Experiment - that demonstrated how people in authority are likely to abuse that authority and inflict harm on innocent people.


    Please - I am sick of hearing excuses for the police. There is no excuse for profiling and gunning down people in cold blood. None. Or, for that matter terrorizing countless others by stopping them on the street and in their homes and pointing guns at them.


    We seem to regard this as normal. After all, the victims tend to be people not like us, who don’t look like us, who may frighten us. Except for one thing: They ARE us. Half the people gunned down by the police have a mental illness. There is no them. Only us. And we are being targeted and terrorized.


    Why hasn’t anyone been talking about this?


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    Sorry for disturbing you.

Published On: August 25, 2014