Central Valley Police & the Mentally Ill: A Deadly Relationship

Abrahams being killed by Woodland Police

May 28, 2008 –Four Woodland police officers dispatched for a “welfare check” (not a criminal complaint) encountered Ricardo Abrahams and after supposedly failing to obey police demands, he was shot with 4 separate taser weapons, ultimately being physically subdued and restrained by these four police officers, who suffocated him to death in the process. A lawsuit filed by the family was recently settled for $300,000.

Jan 11, 2009 –Richie Robles, was shot and killed by Modesto police officer Latisha Leap in front of the DoubleTree Hotel after refusing to drop a sword he was holding.  Robles struggled with mental health problems, but he was not violent, said his mother Polly Robles.

 April 13, 2009 –Several Stanislaus County Jailers used Tasers and pepper spray to subdue Craig Prescott as they tried to move him to a safety cell. He was taken to a Modesto hospital, where he was taken off life support without his family’s consent. Prescott, a former Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputy who came forward with information involving a sheriff’s narcotics ring, was arrested after being fired and having an emotional breakdown.

Dec 15, 2009 – Elizabeth Catherine Kropp, a Modesto women with life-long mental health issues, walked onto the campus of Everett Elementary School with a large knife and began cutting herself. Although reports say she didn’t harm or threaten anyone but herself, when MPD officers arrived they quickly shot her to death.

 Nov 28, 2010 – The Napa Police Department were informed by a 911 caller that 60-year-old Richard Poccia was suicidal and having a mental health crisis. Two officers responded to his house and, after he supposedly reached for a knife in his waistband, shot and killed him. Poccia was a registered psychiatric nurse who worked with AIDS patients as well as at hospital emergency rooms and intensive care units.

Brian Reed's Modesto Home

Dec 30, 2010 -“I’m angry as hell, they didn’t have to hurt him,” said the wife of Brian Reed, in response to Modesto police officers shooting her husband and leaving him in critical condition. “I think they took this situation and handled it wrong.” Reed, a truck driver, was distraught over finances and threatened to kill himself with a small knife. Police then entered his home and, although he never threatened or moved toward the officers, told Reed to “Drop the Fucking knife!” and opened fire.

 March 19, 2011 -The California Department of Public Health confirmed it has an open investigation into Doctors Behavioral Health Center in Modesto two weeks after a 19-year-old man escaped from the facility 6 hours after he was admitted for being suicidal. Ricky Miranda, an Enochs High and Stanislaus State student, escaped from DBHC and was shot and killed by an off-duty CHP officer after he began breaking the windows of homes about a quarter-mile away.

Although we already know that the brutality of police here and around the globe is a major part of why these incidents are reoccurring, the entire story is much more complex. The truth is these people were not only failed by the police, but by the system as a whole. It’s disturbing that 5 of the people mentioned here in the Modesto/Stanislaus County area, have been murdered in the name of “mental health cries” for help by law enforcement. What we also see is a failure in conventional mental health resources, do to the recession, and mental health being the first on the agenda to attack with cuts. Locally and abroad, we also see lack of alternatives (to conventional frameworks) in mental health and this continues to go on often un-noticed. We need to build sustainable mental health alternatives that are deep in richness with helping others succeed in life. A recent group of political and conventional mental health agitators have resonated something new and inspiring around the Valley. It’s called “Radical Mental Health.” They have meetings twice a week. Join if you suffer from mental and emotional traumas resonating in a new and revolutionary framework. Icarus Meetings, A Project of Stanislaus County Radical Mental Health are every Wednesday (12-1pm at 800 Scenic Ave In the Sunset Room/Bldg. 4 Modesto) & Friday (starting June 10th from 6-7pm at Graceada Park (over by Gazebo on Sycomore & Needham Streets Modesto). The Icarus Project envisions a new culture and language that resonates with our actual experiences of ‘mental illness’ rather than trying to fit our lives into a conventional framework. We are a network of people living with experiences that are commonly labeled as bipolar or other psychiatric conditions. We believe we have mad gifts to be cultivated and taken care of, rather than diseases or disorders to be suppressed or eliminated. By joining together as individuals and as a community, the intertwined threads of madness and creativity can inspire hope and transformation in an oppressive and damaged world. Direct contacts for Icarus Meeting and Facilitator(s): Brian – (209) 596-7762 stancountrmh@gmail.com & http://stancountyrmh.blogspot.com

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Categories: Central Valley News, CopWatch, Health Issues, Prisoner Issues

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